For 24 years, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival has presented a selection of films that explore various human rights issues around the world. Taking place in several cities between January and March each year, including Washington DC, Toronto, London, San Francisco, and Zurich, as well as a traveling event, the festival’s signature event has been its annual June NYC series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. This year’s event opens this Thursday, June 13 and runs through Sunday, June 23, showcasing more than 20 films – all but two documentaries – that highlight key themes, including Journalism, explored in the opening night film, WHICH WAY IS THE FRONT LINE FROM HERE? Other themes include:
Traditional Values and Human Rights are further broken down into LGBT Rights, Women’s Rights, and Disability Rights. Among the films exploring the former two issues are several recent titles from Sundance and elsewhere, as well as newer or less-familiar work such as Yoruba Richen’s THE NEW BLACK (pictured), which uses the same-sex marriage debate in Maryland to explore the way the issue has been used to drive a wedge between the African American and LGBT communities; and Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann’s BORN THIS WAY, a portrait of LGBT life in Cameroon, where homosexuality is illegal and prosecuted by the authorities; and Karima Zoubir’s CAMERA/WOMAN, about a divorced Moroccan woman who works as a wedding videographer despite her family’s objections.
The Human Rights in the US theme includes Lisa Biagiotti, Duy Linh Tu, and Joe Lindquist’s DEEPSOUTH (pictured), which looks at the response of several Southerners to rising HIV rates in their rural states; and Al Reinert’s AN UNREAL DREAM: THE MICHAEL MORTON STORY, about a man who was wrongfully convicted and served more than two decades for his wife’s brutal murder.
Finally, films addressing Crises and Migration include Marco Williams’ THE UNDOCUMENTED (pictured), following the fates of undocumented workers who risk their lives trying to cross the US border; Raoul Peck’s FATAL ASSISTANCE, an indictment of the failure of international efforts to help Haiti rebuild; and Nagieb Khaja’s MY AFGHANISTAN – LIFE IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE, a portrait of rural Afghanistan through the cellphone cameras of its inhabitants.