Human Rights Watch Film Festival returns online after it closed due to coronavirus

Radio Silence by Juliana Fanjul

Radio Silence by Juliana Fanjul (Image: Supplied)

The film festival, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, is streaming a collection of international titles on Curzon Home Cinema, co-presented with partners Barbican, Curzon and Regents Street Cinema. Digital audiences also have the opportunity to join live and rigorous interactive discussions for every title with the filmmakers, Human Rights Watch experts, and special guests.

 “At this time when the world feels most intensely the interconnectedness of humanity, the festival was more determined than ever to bring our UK audiences this digital edition,” said John Biaggi, director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. “These essential films present urgent human rights issues we can all relate to. Now more than ever, human rights are global. What impacts one society, what impacts one family, affects all of us.” 

Said Gali Gold, Head of Cinema, Barbican: “The festival allows us to sympathise with others, learn about other peoples’ and communities’ experiences and points of view, and move us sometimes into action. At this particular moment in time these connections feel more important than ever. As the principle venue for the London festival, we are very pleased that our audiences can engage with this collection of films and discussions, albeit from their homes.

Available to audiences across the UK and Ireland these documentary and feature films – most of which are made by and about women – expose and humanise crises related to women’s rights, inspiring leaders, the power of journalism, refugee and exiled individuals and families living with trauma, indigenous rights, the on-going struggle for disability rights and Bangladeshi women working in the fashion industry. 

The following titles will be available to stream on Curzon Home Cinema to 5 June. For details about how to join the live webinar Q&A sessions see Human Rights Watch Film Festival Streamed Q&A schedule


Dir. Juliana Fanjul

2019, 79 min, documentary 
Live webinar Q&A: Saturday 30 May, 8.30pm – Juliana Fanjul (filmmaker), José Miguel Vivanco (Executive Director, Americas Division, Human Rights Watch). 

To millions of people in Mexico, the incorruptible journalist and news anchor Carmen Aristegui is regarded as the trusted alternative voice to official government spin, fighting daily against deliberate disinformation spread through news sources, government corruption, and the related drugs trade. When she is fired by a radio station in 2015 after revealing a scandal involving then-President Enrique Peña Nieto, Carmen – with her dedicated journalist colleagues – decides to build a separate news platform. Facing threats of violence in the wake of a prominent journalist’s vicious murder, they must overcome fear for their personal well-being to continue in a shared fight for democracy and justice.

Film trailer:

Film website:


Dir. Rachel Dretzin

2018, 93 min, documentary

Live webinar Q&A: Sunday 31 May, 8.30pm – Andrew Solomon (film participant and author of “Far From the Tree”), Shantha Rau Barriga (Disability Rights Director, Human Rights Watch) moderated by Graeme Reid (LGBT Rights Program Director, Human Rights Watch).

This life-affirming documentary follows the lives of Jack, Jason, Loini, and Trevor, who don’t fit society’s narrow definition of “normal.” We meet them and their families and discuss how expectations placed on children, parents, and families have such power to turn “unconditional love” on its head by ways of extraordinary challenges. Fascinated with this idea, writer and film subject Andrew Solomon’s work on this issue stems from his own traumatic experience coming out as gay to his parents. Rejected and cast aside, he tried everything to regain his parents’ love and be “normal,” including conversion therapy. In a quest for understanding, this film encourages us to let go of our preconceptions – for example, about people with autism or dwarfism – and celebrate our loved ones for all that makes them uniquely themselves.

Film trailer:

Film website:

Far from the Tree by Rachel Dretzin

Far from the Tree by Rachel Dretzin (Image: Supplied)


Dir. Hassan Fazili

2019, 87min, documentary

Live webinar Q&A: Thursday 4 June, 8.30pm – Emelie Madhavian (producer), Ben Ward (UK Director ((Acting)) & Deputy Director Europe & Central Asia Division, Human Rights Watch), tbc additional panellist.

In 2015, after Hassan Fazili’s documentary Peace aired on Afghan national television, the Taliban assassinated the film’s main subject and put a price on Hassan’s head. Hassan looked at his wife and his daughters, and he knew they had to flee their home. Over the course of their multi-year saga in search of safety, the family grasped onto the only means they had to assert control over their situation: their camera-phones.

Hassan and his wife Fatima are both filmmakers, and they are educating their daughters and encouraging them to be artists. The whole family shot this autobiographical film, which began when they sought and were rejected for refugee protection and follows them along the notorious Balkan smuggling route. As they experienced increasingly degrading circumstances, the family latched on to filmmaking as a way to not just survive, but retain their humanity.

Midnight Traveler is a gripping vérité story made by a family on the run. Their unique access and artistic vision provide an intimate portrait of a loving family and the myriad fellow travellers they meet on their odyssey.

Film trailer:

Made in Bangladesh by Rubaiyat Hossain

Made in Bangladesh by Rubaiyat Hossain (Image: Supplied)


Dir. Rubaiyat Hossain

2019, 95 min, drama

Live webinar Q&A: Friday 5 June, 8.30pm – Rubaiyat Hossain (filmmaker), Nisha Varia (Advocacy Director, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch), moderated by Annie Kelly (journalist and editor, Guardian Modern-day Slavery in Focus series).

Shimu works gruelling hours for paltry pay in a clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After a fire in the factory leaves a co-worker dead, Shimu is moved to start a union. Her attempts are met with resistance at every step, not just from her patriarchal employers but also her colleagues, who fear losing their jobs. In the face of threats from management and violent disapproval of her husband, Shimu discovers a wealth of courage and tenacity she didn’t know she had. Channelling real-life stories that Bangladeshi filmmaker Rubaiyat Hossain encountered as a women’s rights activist, this empowering, layered drama shines a light on an oppressive industry, and demands our attention. 

Film trailer:

Film website:

Prices for streaming Human Rights Watch Film Festival titles on Curzon Home Cinema: 

Midnight Travellers (£4.99), Far From the Tree (£3.99) and all others (£7.99). 

All live webinar Q&As: FREE

For festival updates, sign up for our mailing list at

Twitter: @hrwfilmfestival   Instagram: @hrwfilmfestival  Facebook: HumanRightsWatch





Human Rights Watch: For more than 40 years, Human Rights Watch has defended people at risk of abuse, investigating abuses scrupulously, exposing the facts widely, and pressing those in power for change that respects rights.

Source link