Festival Focus: Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2017 Preview

Posted March 1st, 2017 by Annabelle Amato

Currently screening in over 20 cities around the world, Human Rights Watch selects approximately 40 films to be shown worldwide for its Film Festival. 16 of those 40 will screen at the London HRW Film Festival this year. Dedicated to defending and protecting human rights,  these films all highlight the importance of tolerance and change, bringing to light matters of great importance, as well as demonstrating artistic quality.

One of these distinctive films comes from documentarian, Zaradasht Ahmed. Following his award-winning film, The Road to Diyarbakir, Ahmed returns with Nowhere to Hide. This documentary follows Nori Sharif, who began filming his experience in the hospital where he worked, and of his life Iraq after US troops left in 2011. When militant activity spikes, Sharif continues to film, though ultimately, Sharif must face the difficult decision to stay and help his patients, or to leave Iraq and protect his family.

Nowhere to Hide was awarded the IDFA Best Feature-Length Documentary in 2016. The film will screen on March 17th at 6:30PM at Barbican, and will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker, Zaradasht Ahmed.

The compelling documentary, They Call us Monsters, will also screen at the festival this year. This film tells the story of three teenage Californians, Juan, Jarad and Antonio who face decades in prison. During their sentences, they collaborate on a short film, which coincidentally, allows the audience access into the minds and experiences of these young men.

Though director/producer, Benjamin Lear, began his career by earning a degree in music composition at NYU. After composing his own folk opera, he decided to focus on film. Lear now sits on the advisory board of InsideOUT writers, and is an ally member within the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. He teaches a weekly writing class within the Compound, and mentors former juvenile offenders upon reentry. They Call us Monsters will screen on March 14th at 6:30PM at Picturehouse Central.

Complicit follows Yi Yeting as he fights to survive after discovering he has developed occupational leukemia. As he helps other workers who have also been poisoned by benzene and n-hexane, he brings his fight from the hospital to the international stage. Defying all odds, Yi confronts both corporate and government issues as he brings forward the issue.

First time documentarian, Heather White, and co-director Lynn Zhang are the masterminds behind this inspiring story. Complicit screens on March 11 at 5:30PM at Picturehouse Central.

Following his 2013 film, Four Wings and a Prayer, Toronto-based director and documentarian, Nicholas de Pencier returns with Black Code, a documentary based on the book by Ronald Deibert. This riveting tale delves into the impact that the internet has on free speech, privacy and activism throughout the world. Entering the worlds of international civilians and exploring their experiences with cyberspace gives this film a unique voice amongst the others in this year’s HRW Festival.

Black Code screens on March 10th at 9:00PM at Picturehouse Central.

These are only four of the sixteen exceptional documentaries that will screen at the 2017 Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London this month. The HRW Film Festival runs from 6-17 March. Browse the full programme.

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