Human Rights Cinema Part 2: Human Rights Watch Annual Film Festival 2015

Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2015

New York City, United States

June 11- June 20

#8 Kathleen Cleaver, Oakland, 1968. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Blankfort
“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”. Photo Courtesy of ff.hrw.org

As discussed in Part I of this series- Human Right’s Cinema Part 1: The World’s First Human Rights Festival- The New York Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in 1988 was the first human rights film festival in the world. This festival showcases fictional, documentary, and animated films or videos with a human rights theme. This year’s festival will launch in the United States starting from June 11 to June 21 in various venues through the great city of New York.

According to Human Right’s Watch, the festival’s programming committee screens more than 500 films and videos before making selections that will be showcased in the final program.  The content of the festival’s films has varied greatly through the years, generally based on current events or personal experience, and this year is no exception.  The program’s films happen to feature five common themes.  These themes include Armed Conflict and the Arab Spring; Human Rights Defenders, Icons and Villains; LGBT Rights; Migrants’ Rights; Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights.

Among the many films that will be showcased this year, I have selected a few screenings that the critics have been raving about, which are featured below.  If you’re interested in learning more about this years films, or where they will be shown next, click on this link for more details!  In addition, my next article, Human Right’s Cinema Part 3: Historical Human Rights Films That Will Change Your Life, will debrief a few historically significant human rights films that have truly made a difference in the world.

Burden of Peace (2015)




Claudia Paz y Paz, Guatemala’s first female attorney general, is the focal point of one of the Human Rights Film Festival’s screenings called Burden of Peace (2015). Despite the opposition of powerful elites that have been above the law for years, Paz y Paz fights an epic battle to bring justice to powerful criminals and corrupt politicians. As said by hrw.org, Burden of Peace (2015), directed and written by Joey Boink and Sander Wirken, is an “epic tale of personal sacrifice, hard-fought change, and hope.”

See the trailer here:

 No Land’s Song (2014)



As part of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, female singers were banned from the public in Iran. Even today, they are prevented from performing solo, unless it is to an exclusively female audience. In attempt to bring light to her situation, and change the way Sara Najafi seeks to bring together Iranian and French female soloists to break down this law. No Land’s Song (2014), written and directed by Ayat Najafi, features the work of Sara Najifi and her political work through the beauty of music.

See the trailer here:



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