2013 Human Rights Watch Film Fest runs June 13-23
DEARDRA SHULER Special to the AmNews | 6/13/2013, 2:09 p.m.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the IFC Center are co-presenting the 2013 Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Films will be shown at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, located at 144 W. 65th St. in New York City, and the IFC Center, located at 323 Sixth Ave. at West 3rd Street. The benefit screening and opening night film will be shown at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th St. The festival runs from Thursday, June 13 through Sunday, June 23.
I spoke with the deputy director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Andrea Holley, whose organization will be presenting 20 films. Born in Miami and raised in Texas, Holley has worked with the Human Rights Watch Film Festival since 1999. She has worked in Africa, Eastern Europe, United Kingdom and the Middle East.
"People like me who become involved in the human rights movement do so due to personal experience, or they live in a certain place that brought about some sort of awareness. For me personally, growing up in Texas made me highly aware of a number of different human rights situations. Also, I was able to travel abroad when I was relatively young and got a better understanding of the different frameworks that apply in different places around the world.
"Therefore, I became much more enlightened to the fact there are a number of different systems and ideologies out there. I came to understand that the human rights framework proved to be a lens that allowed me to see things in a perspective that is not always as politically charged as others. In Texas, for example, they still have the death penalty. This relates somewhat to one of the films in the festival, 'An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story.'
"Fortunately, Mr. Morton did not face the death penalty, but his case involved wrongful conviction," she continued. "The conviction was eventually overturned due to DNA evidence and a series of investigations, but sadly, wrongful convictions are not unusual."
Human Rights Watch has a number of divisions. There is an Africa division, as well as a Europe and Central Asia division, etc., for the various global regions. These divisions handle children's right, women's rights, health and human rights and work collaboratively to cover a variety of issues. The film festival functions as an outreach tool wherein topics in the films generally correspond to aspects of the work Human Rights does. "Our role as staff is to find and select films," said Holley. "A big component of our festival is to have discussions after films to help folks process and reflect on what they have seen in order to gain more information. The festival will showcase 20 films in New York covering a wide variety of themes and topics. Our key themes this year focus on traditional values in human rights, crisis and migration, human rights in the United States and also focus on Asia."
Films featured include "Deepsouth," regarding Southern communities dealing with the HIV crisis; "Fatal Assistance," a look at Haiti since the earthquake and the complexities resulting once humanitarian aid is dispersed; "The Act of Killing," a documentary on Indonesia regarding paramilitary members responsible for a number of atrocities in Indonesia; "In the Shadow of the Sun," which highlights the treatment of Albinos in Tanzania"; "The New Black," which depicts how the African-American community deals with the marriage equality movement; and "Camera/Woman" covers the lives of women in Morocco.