A festival blends a celebration of the human spirit with a critical examination of human rights issues using a refined interpretation of ‘human rights.’
The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival has established itself as a platform for screening both traditional and innovative human rights films in Australia.Presented in conjunction with visual artwork exhibitions, poetry and music performances, seminars and workshops, the film festival takes centre stage. The festival presents films that document issues of human rights abuses as well as those that critique traditional representations of human rights issues and the representation of ‘victims.’ The films are marvellous studies of the human condition, pushing the boundaries of the theme through a nuanced interpretation of it. This year’s selection included documentaries that told stories of human rights abuses such as the neglect faced by street children in Nepal (Lonely Pack), the horrific working conditions of ship-breaking workers at Chittagong dockyards in Bangladesh (Iron Crows) and the effects of climate change on lives in the Pacific islands (There Was Once an Island). However, the festival cast a wide net and included films that observed human rights concerns in Western societies, which appear less frequently in human rights documentaries.
Topics included: the playing out of the pro-life and pro-choice hostilities (12th and Delaware), the effects of technology on humans and societies (Plug & Pray) and the challenges of resettlement faced by migrants in Britain (Moving to Mars: a Million Miles from Burma). The Festival also included films that celebrate the power of collective and individual action to conquer adversity – the power of music in the ghettos of Congo (Benda Bilili), the successes of the peaceful, secular resistance movement to the ‘Fence’ in Gaza (Budrus) and the successful community action against gold mining in Argentinian Patagonia (Vienen Por El Oro Vienen El Todo).