News / Arts & Entertainment

Human Rights Film Fest Highlights Abuses, Conflicts in US and Abroad

Human Rights Film Festival Highlights Gender, Economic Issuesi
X
June 19, 2013 8:12 PM
Twenty new films from around the world are screening in New York this week, as part of the 24th annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival, co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center. The issues explored range from the rights of women, gays and the disabled, to economic justice, to political murder, torture and wrongful imprisonment. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports from New York.

Human Rights Film Festival Highlights Gender, Economic Issues

Carolyn Weaver
A portrait of the protest movement that began in 2011 in New York’s financial district, 99% -- The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film, is one of the more unusual of 20 new offerings at this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York.  It was shot by teams around the United States, and anyone who wanted to participate could do so.

“We thought it was important to have as many viewpoints as possible,” said Nina Krstic, one of four co-directors with Aaron Aites, Audrey Ewell and Lucian Read. “There are veterans from Pittsburgh, students from Philadelphia, media people in New York, the San Francisco Occupation, Zuccotti Park, obviously. These are regular people who have been affected by political, social and economic inequality. One goal of the film is to paint them as real people.”

Women’s rights, gay rights and disability rights are the subjects of more than half the films in the festival, co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center. 

In Jeremy Teicher’s Tall as the Baobab Tree, one of two feature films at the Festival, a young girl in Senegal tries to save her 11-year-old sister from being sold into marriage.

Salma, by British documentarian Kim Longinotto, is about the well-known Tamil writer of poetry and fiction who spent 25 years as a virtual prisoner - first in her parents’ home, and then in her husband’s. Her poems, smuggled to publishers with the aid of her mother, eventually led to her independence.

Born This Way, by Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann, explores the difficult lives of four young gay people in Cameroon, where there are more arrests for homosexuality than in any other country in the world.

In the Shadow of the Sun, by Harry Freeland, tells the stories of two Tanzanian men who face prejudice and even violence because of their albinism.

Two films from East Asia portray almost unimaginable horrors. Camp 14 - Total Control Zone, by German documentarian Marc Wiese, is the story of Shin Dong Huyk, who was born and grew up inside a North Korean prison camp, where cruelty and near-starvation led even children and parents to betray each other. The film, which mixes a single long interview with animated scenes of Shin's life, garnered Wiese the Festival’s Nestor Almendros award for courage in filmmaking.

The Act of Killing, by Joshua Oppenheimer, revisits the never-prosecuted murders of up to one million leftists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals in Indonesia in 1965-1967 by death squads operating at the behest of then-General Suharto. Oppenheimer invited several of the killers, who still live openly in Indonesian society and call themselves “gangsters” after their Hollywood heroes, to reenact their crimes for the camera. This they proudly do, costuming themselves as drag queens, gangsters and cowboys in scenes of breathtaking surreality.

The 2013 Festival’s centerpiece film is Haitian-born director Raoul Peck’s Fatal Assistance, about the failure of international aid in rebuilding Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

“It is an absolutely devastating film,” says Festival director John Biaggi, that shows “how NGO money and money from the world community that go to all these different disasters are really the money is spent in a very haphazard, very unstructured way, and in some cases actually damaging to the population.”

Not all the films are bleak. A feature film from Serbia, The Parade, by Srdjan Dragojevic, is a comedy about a group’s effort to hold a Gay Pride march in Belgrade - where authorities have previously banned such parades and participants are frequently attacked.

Additional reporting and camera by Michael Gutkin and Sergey Gusev

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”