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Human Rights Film Festival

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”

The Human Rights Network of Aotearoa is proud to present the 4th Annual New Zealand Human Rights Film Festival – a cinematic celebration of extraordinary people striving for success in the most difficult 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. The films featured in this Festival not only celebrate how far we’ve come since the signing, but also highlight where work is still needed for the promise of the First Article – that All human beings are born free and equal – to be truly realised.

This year’s programme features the following films that may be of particular interest to you:

THE DICTATOR HUNTER – a film by Dutch director Klaartje Quirjins
“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.

FIGHTING THE SILENCE: SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN CONGO – a film by Dutch directors Ilse and Femke van Velzen
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.



Human Rights Film Festival 2008


Wellington: 8-16 May | Paramount Theatre

Auckland: 15-23 May | Newmarket Rialto Cinema

Christchurch: 22-30 May | Regent Theatre

Dunedin: 29 May-6 June | Rialto Cinema


Please tell your friends, lovers, enemies, co-workers, family, students, and random strangers about this important and unique Festival.


Why come along?  Because…


1) After each screening a member of the Human Rights Community will speak about the film and encourage a discussion of how it has affected you and what the consequences are, if any, for New Zealand society.


2) The Festival includes award-winning documentaries direct from international film festivals including: Toronto, San Francisco, Jerusalem, IDFA Amsterdam, and Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic).


3) The featured films explore pressing Human Rights issues including: 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.


But this not a Festival of doom and gloom!


Most of the documentaries focus on communities and individuals who are busy overcoming adversity, surviving against the odds and moving towards an inclusive and fulfilling society.


“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.”

Human Rights Film Festival Directors


For more information check out www.humanrightsfilmfest.net.nz or pick up a programme from your local library, café, or the any participating cinema.


Please help spread the word by sending this e-mail to everyone in your address book/database


Thank you!



Boris van Beusekom & Carolyn Brown

Directors New Zealand Human Rights Film Festival

Human Rights Film Festival Aotearoa New Zealand

PO Box 24423, Manners St | Wellington | New Zealand

Ph +64 4 381 3430 | www.humanrightsfilmfest.net.nz


Other highlights of the 2008 Festival 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 ostracised 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 returned 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 for whom?



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.


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 organise change: by taking a major television manufacturer to task for violating their labour rights.


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 Zealanders Julia Capon and Ricardo Restrepo went to Venezuela 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.


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.


“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.




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