In an era of global advances by far-right forces into the political mainstream, assaults on the free press, and the rise of citizen journalism, the 28th New York Human Rights Watch Film Festival will present 20 topical and provocative feature documentaries and panel discussions that showcase courageous resilience in challenging times, and celebrate the ongoing fight for justice, progress, and transparency.    

We hope that these films can serve as an inspiration and motivation for our audience, from seasoned activists to those searching for a role in various local and global movements.

This year, we are including three films that address the urgent and evolving issues of the refugee crisis and migration affecting millions of people around the world. Our Opening Night film, Nowhere to Hide, follows an Iraqi nurse and his family whose lives are suddenly turned upside down as war once again tears apart their country. In The Good Postman, residents of a tiny Bulgarian town decide whether to welcome or reject Syrian families fleeing war. Lost in Lebanon takes a close look at the reaction of a country of 4 million inhabitants to the arrival of 1 million refugees.

The pressing need for systemic change in US police and justice institutions is another focus of this year’s selection. The Blood is at the Doorstep follows Dontre Hamilton’s family’s demand for justice following his fatal shooting by police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Force gains unprecedented access to the Oakland Police Department, exposing layers of corruption and undertrained officers. The grave mishandling of domestic violence cases is profiled in Home Truth, causing a grief-stricken mother to take up the fight for legal change. In Lindy Loo, Juror No 2, Lindy crosses political and religious divides in the rural South to explore the personal impact on fellow jurors after sentencing a man to the death penalty.

Holding governments and powerful forces to account is just as important as ever, both at home and abroad. City of Ghosts follows a team of Syrian citizen journalists risking their lives to expose atrocities in the ISIS-occupied town of Raqqa. Global digital activists from North America to Brazil and Tibet covertly counter governments’ expanding invasions of privacy in Black Code. In our special event discussion panel, From Audience to Activist, filmmakers, journalists and activists will discuss the power of citizen-produced media and security challenges faced by those bringing truth to light. Closing Night’s Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press unpacks the Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker case and the purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal to expose the threat to independent journalism when billionaires and politicians are armed with an agenda.

As always, the festival will host in-depth discussions after the screenings with filmmakers, film subjects, Human Rights Watch researchers, and activists to offer you, the audience, a unique opportunity to engage with the topics covered in each film. 

We are delighted to bring this program to you, and hope that you will continue to join us in supporting and celebrating powerful human rights achievements in film through 2017 and beyond.

Additional screenings take place at the IFC Center.

In film there are no borders. Support the arts. Embrace cinema. Film Lives Everywhere.