Human Rights Watch 2019: Documentary Overview

The 30th Human Rights Watch Film Festival

June 13-20

Eleven documentaries and two fiction features about urgent human rights issues make up the slate of this NYC event.


The festival opens with Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche’s ADVOCATE, a portrait of a passionate Israeli attorney who has spent her entire career working for Palestinian defendants, representing the event’s theme of Occupation and the Rule of Law. Other related work, dealing with Accountability and Justice, Justice and Peace, and Journalism, respectively, includes: James Jones and Olivier Sarbil’s ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERS, on Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs; Rehad Desai’s EVERYTHING MUST FALL, about a radical, student-led movement in South Africa against rising tuition costs; and Hans Pool’s BELLINGCAT: TRUTH IN A POST-TRUTH WORLD, which follows citizen journalists as they try to unearth the truth in an era of fake news.


Under the heading of Women’s Rights and/or Children’s Rights are Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s ONE CHILD NATION, which bravely exposes the unseen consequences of China’s one-child policy; Beryl Magoko’s IN SEARCH…, a personal reckoning with the practice of female genital mutilation; and Floriane Devigne’s NO BOX FOR ME. AN INTERSEX STORY, focusing on the experiences of intersex individuals; while Maryam Zaree’s BORN IN EVIN, a personal film investigating the filmmaker’s birth in an Iranian prison for dissidents, represents Family History and Human Rights.


Remaining nonfiction falls under the themes of Disability Rights, with Jason DaSilva’s WHEN WE WALK, in which the filmmaker, wh has multiple sclerosis, must navigate the broken US healthcare system to be closer to his son following his divorce; Health and Human Rights in Tuki Jencquel’s ESTA TODA BIEN (IT’S ALL GOOD), which explores the impact of Venezuela’s financial crisis on health services; and Migrants’ Rights and Racism in Eunice Lau’s ACCEPT THE CALL, which follows a Somali refugee as he deals with his son’s arrest on terrorism charges.

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