8 African/African American Interest Films To See At Human Rights Watch Film Fest This Month
Photo Credit: S & A

8 African/African American Interest Films To See At Human Rights Watch Film Fest This Month


The Human Rights Watch Film Festival runs June 13 to 23 with a program of films from across the globe that call for justice and social change. 

Now in its 24th edition, the festival will be presented at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the IFC Center

20 films will be featured, including 15 New York premieres.

Those that should be of interest to readers of this blog, especially if you live in New York City, follow below (for the festival’s complete program and schedule information, visit: hrw.org). Trailers below where available:

Opening Night Film & Reception
Friday, June 14, 7:00 pm, Walter Reade Theater

ANITA (New York premiere + panel discussion with filmmaker and special guest)
Freida Mock—US—2013—84m—doc

On October 11, 1991, a poised young law professor sent shock waves through the nation as she sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee intrepidly testifying to the lewd behavior of a Supreme Court nominee. Twenty years later, Academy Award winner Freida Mock brings us ANITA, which crystallizes the sexist power dynamics in the room that day and unravels the impact of that lightning-rod moment on Anita Hill’s life and the broader discussion of gender inequality in America. Contemporary interviews with Hill and her allies, and unsettling archival footage, reveal the way her attempt to report confidentially on Clarence Thomas’s conduct quickly became a perverse and vicious public attack on her character and credibility. Hill’s hearing became a charade of justice. Yet her audacity to speak out detonated a national debate about sexual harassment that revolutionized gender politics.

Post-screening panel discussion: Featuring Freida Mock, Filmmaker, and special guest. Moderated by Liesl Gerntholtz, Director, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

Closing Night Film & Party
Sunday, June 23, 7:00 pm, IFC Center

TALL AS THE BAOBAB TREE (New York premiere + panel discussion with filmmaker and others)
Jeremy Teicher—Senegal/US—2012—82m—drama—In Pulaar with English subtitles

Tall as the Baobab Tree poignantly depicts a family struggling to find its footing on the edge of a modern world fraught with tensions between tradition and modernity. Coumba and her little sister Debo are the first to leave their family’s remote African village, where meals are prepared over open fires and water is drawn from wells, to attend school in the bustling city. But when an accident suddenly threatens their family’s survival, their father decides to sell 11-year-old Debo into an arranged marriage. Torn between loyalty to her elders and her dreams for the future, Coumba hatches a secret plan to rescue her younger sister from a future she did not choose.

Post-screening panel discussion: Featuring Jeremy Teicher, Filmmaker and Rona Peligal, Deputy Director, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch

HRWFF NY 2013 Closing Night Party at the Bubble Lounge directly following the Closing Night screening and discussion from 9 pm to 11 pm, 228 West Broadway at Franklin Street

Watch the trailer below:


IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN (US premiere + Q&A with filmmaker)
Harry Freeland—UK/Tanzania—2012—84m—doc—In English and Swahili with English subtitles

Filmed over six years, In the Shadow of the Sun tells the story of two men with albinism in Tanzania pursuing their dreams in the face of virulent prejudice. In the midst of an escalation in brutal murders of people with albinism, we meet Josephat Torner. Josephat decides to confront the communities where the killings are taking place saying, “I need to change society so it can accept me.” Along the way, he visits Ukerewe Island, where he finds 62 people with albinism living there, including 15-year-old Vedastus. Vedastus, whose mother was told to kill him when he was born, has been bullied out of school and rejected by his community. But Vedastus dreams of returning to get an education. Dedicating his life to campaigning against this sort of discrimination against people with albinism—segregated from society and deprived of education—Josephat becomes a mentor to Vedastus. Through his intimate portrait of Vedastus and Josephat, filmmaker Harry Freeland reveals a story of deep-rooted superstition, heartfelt suffering, and incredible strength.
Saturday, June 15, 9:15 pm, IFC Center
Sunday, June 16, 6:00 pmElinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

CAMERA/WOMAN (US premiere + Q&A with filmmaker)
Karima Zoubir—Morocco—2012—59m—doc—In Arabic with English subtitles

With enthusiastic musicians and ornate wedding parties setting the stage, we meet Khadija, a Moroccan divorcee who works as a camerawoman at weddings in Casablanca. Her mother and brother strongly disagree with her choice of occupation, complaining that Khadija is out until all hours and a source of gossip for the neighbors. Already ashamed that Khadija is divorced, they simply want her to remarry. But Khadija is the breadwinner in the family and she won’t bow to their demands. The fairy tale world of the wedding parties plays in sharp contrast to the difficulties of marriage and the reality of divorce. Together with her best friend Bouchra, also a divorcee, Khadija talks candidly about the issues they face and the competing forces at play in the lives of women in Morocco and beyond.
Preceded by: GOING UP THE STAIRS – Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami—Iran—2011—51m—doc—In Farsi with English subtitles
Sunday, June 16, 9:15 pmIFC Center 
Tuesday, June 18, 6:00 pmElinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

 (New York premiere + Q&A with filmmaker)
Shaun Kadlec and Deb Tullmann—Cameroon—2012—84m—doc—In English and French with English subtitles

There are more arrests for homosexuality in Cameroon than in any other country in the world. With intimate access to the lives of four young gay Cameroonians, Born This Waysteps outside the genre of activist filmmaking and offers a vivid and poetic portrait of day-to-day life in modern Africa. This is a story of what is possible in the global fight for equality.
Friday, June 21, 9:15 pmElinor Bunin Munroe Film Center  
Saturday, June 22, 7:00 pm, IFC Center  

 (New York premiere + Q&A with filmmaker)
Yoruba Richen—US—2013—82m—doc

The New Black tells the story of how the African American community is grappling with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in light of the marriage equality movement and the fight over civil rights. We meet activists, families, and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, a state with a 30 percent African-American population.Through this story, the film examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church—and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda. The New Black takes viewers into the pews and onto the streets as it tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community.
Wednesday, June 19, 7:00 pm, IFC Center
Thursday, June 20, 6:30 pmElinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

FATAL ASSISTANCE (US premiere + Q&A with filmmaker)
Raoul Peck—Haiti/France/US—2012—100m—doc—In English and French and Haitian Creole with English subtitles

Award-winning Haitian born filmmaker Raoul Peck takes us on a two-year journey inside the challenging, contradictory, and colossal rebuilding efforts in post-earthquake Haiti. Through its provocative and radical point of view, Fatal Assistance offers a devastating indictment of the international community’s post-disaster idealism. The film dives headlong into the complexity of the reconstruction process and the practices and impact of worldwide humanitarian and development aid, revealing the disturbing extent of a general failure. We learn that a major portion of the money pledged to Haiti was never disbursed, nor made it into the actual reconstruction. Fatal Assistance leads us to one clear conclusion: current aid policies and practice in Haiti need to stop immediately.
Wednesday, June 19, 6:30 pmElinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 
Thursday, June 20, 7:00 pm, IFC Center

DEEPSOUTH (New York premiere + Q&A with filmmaker and film subjects)
Lisa Biagiotti—US—2012—72m—doc

deepsouth explores the rural American South and the people who inhabit its most distant corners. Beneath layers of history, poverty, and now soaring HIV infections, four Americans redefine traditional Southern values to create their own solutions to survive. Josh, a college student, seeks the support of an underground gay family miles from his suffocating Mississippi Delta hometown. With no funds and few resources, Monica and Tammy tirelessly try to unite reluctant participants at their annual HIV retreat in rural Louisiana. Kathie, an Alabama activist, spends 120 days every year on the road fighting a bureaucracy that continues to ignore the South. Each of these stories shares a particular perspective on life with HIV in a region of the United States often ignored by politicians and the public—a point of view that turns out to be both educational and inspirational.
Saturday, June 15, 7:00 pm, IFC Center
Monday, June 17, 7:00 pm, IFC Center

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