Women filmmakers dominate Human Rights Watch Film Festival

This year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival will feature 15 films – 12 directed by women. Co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center, the festival runs from June 14-21 at New York’s Francesca Beale Theater at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. This must-see event focuses on one of the most important issues of our time – human rights. This year, the voices of women are notably prevalent this year when women have fought for their voices to be heard in the #MeToo movement. 

Through emotional and poignant feature films, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival shines a light on issues like sexual abuse, civil violence, women on the front lines, rights of transgender soldiers and the suffering of women in third world countries. Director Sahra Mani’s A Thousand Girls Like Me is a 76-minute feature about Khatera, a 23-year-old Afghan woman who forces her father to stand trial after a lifetime of sexual abuse. Julia Bacha directs Naila and the Uprising tells the story of Naila Ayesh, who played a key role in the First Intifada, the most vibrant, nonviolent mobilization in Palestinian history. The film will screen at New York’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival on June 16.

Bacha and Mani are just two of the women filmmakers who are represented in an impressive list of films being shown. Last year’s program had roughly half directed by women filmmakers, a slight increase from the previous year.

“We have already seen some progress in that regard over the past year,” Bacha told FF2 Media when asked about the increase of women in film festivals. “In order to ensure the progress continues and isn’t a short-term gain, we need to target the system as a whole – not just the curation of film festivals. That means, among other things, providing financial support for women filmmakers to research and develop their films at the same level received by their male counterparts, supporting women taking creative risks in their work, and offering a safe way for women to report sexual harassment and assault in the industry so they don’t leave.”

Bacha, who is a Peabody award-winning filmmaker (Budrus), Guggenheim Fellow and the Creative Director at Just Vision, reflected on her participation as a woman filmmaker in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, “It’s a huge honor to be presenting alongside such incredible films helmed by women. The slate at this year’s HRWFF shows that it’s not that hard to find incredible films made by women.”

That slate also includes Charm City, a 106-minute feature that takes viewers to Baltimore, Maryland to uncover the reasons for the city’s excessive violence. Sedika Mojadid’s 80-minute film Facing the Dragon will be making its New York premiere. The film tells the story of two women on the front lines of Afghanistan as the Taliban regains its hold on the country.

The Silence of Others by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, is a 96-minute feature that is also making its New York premiere. It centers on a 1977 law in Spain known as “the pact of forgetting” which prohibits legal action related to the oppression, torture and murder of an estimated 100,000 people during Franco’s 40-year dictatorship.

All screenings will be followed by in-depth discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, Human Rights Watch researchers and special guests. You can see these movies and more by purchasing tickets at the https://www.filmlinc.org/festivals/human-rights-watch-film-festival/#films.

© Lisa Iannucci (6/15/18) FF2 Media


Photos: Julia Bacha’s Naila and the Uprising & Sahra Mani’s A Thousand Girls Like Me 

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