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Human Rights Film Festival 2008

Human Rights Film Festival 2008

Wellington: 8-16 May | Paramount Theatre | www.paramount.co.nz

Auckland: 15- 23 May | Newmarket Rialto Cinema | www.rialto.co.nz

Christchurch: 22-30 May | Regent Theatre | www.hoyts.co.nz

Dunedin: 29 May - 6 June | Rialto Cinema | www.rialto.co.nz


"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights"

The Human Rights Network of Aotearoa is proud to present the fourth annual New Zealand Human Rights Film Festival - a cinematic event celebrating extraordinary people striving for success and achievement amidst the hardest of circumstances and conditions.

2008 is a particularly special year for the Human Rights movement as it's the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the films shown during the festival not only celebrate how far we have come since the signing but also where work is still needed if the promise of the first Article - All human beings are born free and equal - is to be realised.

"It is an interesting irony that the anniversary of the signing coincides with the Olympics being held in China - a country which is widely condemned for its human rights abuses" says the Directors of the festival "60 years ago, the heads of states agreed to work together towards free and equal status for all. Now human rights are only to be discussed at 'appropriate time and places' behind closed doors and definitely not in consultation with the general public".

The festival includes award winning documentaries direct from film festivals such as the Toronto, San Francisco, Jerusalem, IDFA Amsterdam, and Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic) film festivals and all films explore a range of pressing Human Rights issues such as exploitation in Maquilapolis - City of Factories, globalisation in Afghan Chronicles, genocide in The Dictator Hunter, exile in Western Sahara: Africa's Last Colony and war in Children of the Nation.

This is not a festival of doom and gloom however, with most of the documentaries focusing on communities and individuals overcoming adversity, surviving against the odds and moving towards an inclusive and fulfilling society.

Due to public demand the festival will also screen in Dunedin and has been extended to nine days in Christchurch. Speakers panels are also making a welcome return along with a commitment to showcasing New Zealand film makers with films such as Now the People have Awoken and Children of a Nation.

In summing up this unique film festival the Directors state:

"In many ways this film programme emphasises the point that human rights are universal and enduring. The concerns of today are no different to those of 60 years ago or those in 20 years time. The nature or essence of those rights will remain the inherent dignity and worth of the person. Concerns over the environment, globalisation, fair trade, accountability of political leaders, privatisation of utilities, and privacy dominate for now. However, the right to freedom of expression, the right not to be discriminated against, the right to life, and the right to safe working conditions have just as much cogency today as they did in 1948."

Highlights of 2008 include:

A WALK TO BEAUTIFUL - The award winning feature-length documentary A Walk to Beautiful tells the stories of five Ethiopian women who suffer from devastating childbirth injuries and embark on a journey to reclaim their lost dignity. Rejected by their husbands and ostracized by their communities, these women are left to spend the rest of their lives in loneliness and shame. They make the choice to take the long and arduous journey to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in search of a cure and a new life. The film has a New Zealand connection in that it features an interview with Dr Catherine Hamlin who along with her New Zealand born husband helped set up and worked in the hospitals. Most recently Dr Hamlin has been in New Zealand raising funds for their Hamlin Charitable Fistula Hospitals Trust.

A MINORITY REPORT: KOSOVO MINORITIES, EIGHT YEARS AFTER - In June 1999, following the end of the three-month long NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) was established. During the first year of UNMIK, over 240,000 members of minorities - mostly Serbs, Roma and Gorani - fled Kosovo. Hundreds of those who stayed, were killed, kidnapped or otherwise brutally persecuted for not belonging to the majority community. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only around 15,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) returned to Kosovo in 2007. Those who return live in ghettoes dispersed through Kosovo. Threats, harassments and isolation are part of the daily life of the returnees. Kosovo has gained its independence but whom for?


Set amongst the chaos of youth gang fighting in 2006 that has turned tens of thousands of East Timorese families into IDPs, an inspired East Timorese teacher develops a vision for the children in her school. Sister Aurora Pires, along with New Zealand teacher Anne Fisher, trains teachers to nurture their young students so they can heal wounds and break the cycle of trauma to build a humanistic and truly democratic society.

Fighting the Silence


FIGHTING THE SILENCE: SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN CONGO - During the Democratic Republic of the Congo's seven year war, more then 80,000 women and girls were raped. Fighting the Silence tells the story of ordinary women and men struggling to change their society: one that prefers to blame victims rather than prosecute rapists. Survivors tell of the brutality they experienced. Husbands talk of the pressures that led them to abandon their wives. A father explains why he has given up on his daughter's future. Soldiers and policemen share their views about why rape continues to flourish in the Congo despite the war having officially ended four years ago.

MAQUILAPOLIS - CITY OF FACTORIES - After making television components all night, Carmen comes home to a shack she built out of recycled garage doors, in a neighbourhood with no sewage lines or electricity. She suffers from kidney damage and lead poisoning from her years of exposure to toxic chemicals. She earns six dollars a day. But Carmen is not a victim. She is a dynamic young woman, busy making a life for herself and her children. In Maquilapolis, Carmen and her colleagues reach beyond the daily struggle for survival to organize change: by taking a major television manufacturer to task for violating their labour rights.

NOW THE PEOPLE HAVE AWOKEN - Venezuela has been in Washington's enemy list in recent years. It also sits atop the biggest oil reserves in the world and claims to promote a new socialism. What makes Venezuela tick? Having survived a military coup in 2002, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is regularly depicted as the dictator squandering the wealth of the nation and repressing democratic freedoms. Who else but Venezuela's repeatedly elected dictator would publicly call the president of the US "the devil"? New Zealander's Julia Capon and Ricardo Restrepo went to Veneuzela to film the December 2006 elections and the reaction if Chavez was re-elected but found something better in the story of a people coming together to build a new future.

OCCUPATION 101: VOICE OF THE SILENCED MAJORITY - A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other film ever produced on the conflict -- Occupation 101 presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy, and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

THE DICTATOR HUNTER - "If you kill one person, you go to jail. If you kill 40 people, they put you in an insane asylum. But if you kill 40,000 people, you get a comfortable exile with a bank account in another country, and that's what we want to change here," says Reed Brody. He hunts dictators for a living as a lawyer for Human Rights Watch. For seven years, Brody has been chasing one former dictator in particular: Hissene Habré, the former leader of Chad, who is charged with killing thousands of his own countrymen in the 1980s. The Dictator Hunter shows what it takes for one man to break the cycle of impunity..

The Human Rights Film Festival Programme will be released mid April 2008


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