Human Rights Watch International Film Festival
19-27 March 2009 The Ritzy, ICA , Clapham Picturehouse, Curzon Renoir. “A film festival that wagers hope against injustice, imagination against apathy.” – Ariel Dorfman
From 19-27 March, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (HRWIFF) returns to four cinemas across London with a programme that includes 16 features and nine shorts from 21 countries, one world premiere, one European premiere, 10 UK premieres, and two London premieres. Thirteen of the 16 features focus on the following places: Afghanistan; Burma; Ecuador; Gujarat, India; Kashmir; Lebanon; Liberia; the Palestinian territories; Russia; Rwanda; South Africa and Sudan. Many screenings are followed by lively debate and discussion between filmmakers, audiences and human rights experts.
Three titles in this year’s HRWIFF focus on Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
LOOK INTO MY EYES (UK premiere) directed by Naftaly Gliksberg
Saturday, 21 March 20.30, ICA filmmaker present (TBC)
Sunday, 22 March 16.00, Clapham filmmaker present (TBC)
Filmmaker Naftaly Gliksberg will attend the festival and is available for interview.
Is anti-Semitism a buzzword for all kinds of real or imagined slights? Is it an arcane expression that should be retired or is there legitimacy to outcries worldwide that anti-Semitism is again on the rise?
Cinematographer Naftaly Gliksberg sets out to investigate what anti-Semitism looks like today, crossing two continents to see how people react to direct questions about their attitudes towards Jews, Israel and the notion that there is such a thing as anti-Semitism. It is a startling personal journey of painful discoveries as he explores representations and impressions of Jews and Israelis around the world. Anti-Semitic stereotypes vary in the forms they take: they are often subtle, but the filmmaker comes face to face too with cold hatred packaged in eloquent rhetoric. As he visits individuals in Poland, France, the United States and Germany, Gliksberg discovers that people’s responses to his pointed questions are often a mixture of their own culture, some version of history and a certain collective psychology. LOOK INTO MY EYES shows us that anti-Semitism’s existence is disguised at times, but it is still often alarmingly present.
In English and French, German, Hebrew and Polish with English subtitles
REMNANTS OF A WAR (European premiere) directed by Jawad Metni
Friday, 20 March 18.30, ICA filmmaker and special guest Marc Garlasco, Senior Military Analyst, Emergencies Division, Human Rights Watch present
Sunday, 22 March 19.30, Ritzy filmmaker present
Filmmaker Jawad Metni will attend the festival and is available for interview.
How does life continue in the midst of war and its ever-present remains in Lebanon?
The men and women of southern Lebanon clear their land of unexploded cluster munitions left after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. Hundreds of thousands of these deadly munitions lay scattered across tobacco fields, orange groves, roads and backyards. Hundreds of civilians have been injured and more than 40 killed since the end of the war. REMNANTS OF A WAR takes an intimate look into the lives of the Lebanese who were hired and trained to work in these dangerous new killing fields. In a shattered economy with an incapacitated government, many Lebanese jumped at the chance to earn a good wage with the international organisations and clearance companies who came to Lebanon immediately after the war. But this newfound injection to the local economy is ever threatened by fears of another war or by international donors losing interest as the threat from unexploded ordnance declines. Those who live and work in this environment show that life has to continue there—and not just life, but a life with hope, humour and joy despite the overwhelming risks.
LAILA’S BIRTHDAY directed by Rashid Masharawi
Friday, 20 March 21.30, Ritzy
Wednesday, 25 March 21.15, Ritzy
A moving and humorous tale of a Palestinian taxi driver just trying to get home in time for his daughter’s birthday.
Abu Laila (Mohamed Bakri) used to be a judge, but because the government doesn’t have the means to pay him anymore he is forced to be a taxi driver. On the day his daughter Laila turns ten his wife insists he’ll be home early and bring her a present and a cake. Abu Laila has only one thing on his mind: completing this mission. But daily life in the Palestinian territories has other plans. Abu Laila must explain time after time during his day, “I’m a judge, but actually I’m a taxi driver.” It’s not the humiliation that drives him crazy, it’s the chaos. Abu Laila is adamant that passengers fasten their seat belts. He insists on no smoking. Rashid Masharawi embeds the politics of his story under the surface. True, Abu Laila must endure armed clients, bomb scares and raging arguments about occupation, but he really just wants everyone to behave. When at last he makes it home and is asked how his day was, the payoff is just perfect.
*Official selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2008
Palestine/Tunisia/The Netherlands —2008—70m—drama
In Arabic with English subtitles
For further press information / DVD screeners / images / filmmaker interviews please contact: Sarah Harvey, Publicity: 020 7703 2253 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Box Office information:
Ritzy Cinema: 0871 704 2065 / www.picturehouses.co.uk
ICA: 0207 930 3647 / www.ica.org.uk
Clapham Picture House: 0871 704 2055 / www.picturehouses.co.uk
Curzon Renoir: 0871 704 2055 / www.picturehouses.co.uk
For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has spoken out against systemic abuse and oppression, demanding justice for tyrannized people around the world. By focusing international attention wherever rights are violated, we give a powerful voice to the oppressed. By applying pressure and holding humanity’s most heinous abusers accountable for their crimes—no matter who or where they are—we help make justice possible where there was none before. Around the world, our staff and supporters share a deep sense of responsibility to bear witness and take action.
From many of the world’s most desperate places to the highest levels of government, we work tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted changes. By doing so, we help bring greater dignity and safety to the world and make a genuine impact on people’s lives. Twenty years ago, we created the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival to educate and galvanise a broad cross-section of concerned supporters through the power of film. Since that time, Human Rights Watch’s International Film Festival has become a leading venue for distinguished fiction, documentary, and animated films, and videos with a distinctive human rights theme. Through the eyes of committed and courageous filmmakers, we showcase the heroic stories of activists and survivors worldwide. We seek to empower our viewers with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a very real difference.