Human Rights Watch International Film Festival

Human Rights Watch International Film Festival

The Sanctuary for Independent Media, 3361 Sixth Ave., Troy, NY

October 22, 2008 4:00 PM - 10:00 PM


Since its inception, Human Rights Watch's International Film Festival has embodied the power of film to make a difference. Courageous and committed filmmakers produce impressive documentary and feature films, which stimulate passionate conversations about human rights and inspire new generations of human rights activists. Through the universal language of film, we connect the experiences of survivors and activists with our own experiences--a critical step in influencing public opinion and policy makers. 



4:00pm    Buffet Reception featuring catering by Thunder Mountain Curry

5:00pm    Youth Producing Change (80 minutes)

7:00pm    A Promise to the Dead (92 minutes)

9:00pm    To See If I'm Smiling (59 minutes)



Youth Producing Change (World premiere)
Founding Presenter: Adobe Youth Voices
Run time: 80m

A program of short films directed and produced by youth from across the
globe. Armed with digital cameras, computers and their own boundless
creativity, these young people bravely expose human rights issues faced
by themselves and their communities. It's time that we listen to what
they have to say.
The Countdown
Rene Dongo, Fast Forward Program at The Institute of Contemporary Art—US—2007—6m—doc
In English

A plane left spoken word artist Sofia Snow's hometown on September 11th, never reaching its destination. Sofia shares her hope that society can work to fill the empty space left by the tragedy.

Women Empowerment
Lithiko Mthobeli, in collaboration with Siphokazi, Athi, Ongezwa and Daza, Bridges to Understanding – South Africa—2007— 5m—doc
In English

Reflecting on the harsh reality mothers face in raising children alone in their township, these young South African filmmakers celebrate their mothers' resilience to overcome the obstacles that lay before them.

I Want My Parents Back
Aaron Dominguez, Euniz Gonzalez, Argenis Herrera, Garrett Hayes, Khirye Rice, Melly Jenny, Nathan Villalobos, Omar Flores and Cody Marshall of Media Arts Center San Diego – US/Mexico—2007— 11m—doc
In English and Spanish

The impact of U.S. immigration policies hit home when the undocumented parents of the Munoz family are deported without warning to Mexico, leaving their 3 young American-born children behind.

Islands of the People
Amber Good, Raven Hausman-Hayward, Justin Klevgaard and Jesse Williams of Atira Women's Resource Society, in partnership with the Old Massett Youth Program – Haida Gwaii, Canada —2007—6m—doc
In English and Haida

Amber Good is a 13 year old Haida girl with a very important role to play. Facing the dark history of colonization and forced assimilation that nearly wiped out her culture, Amber makes a commitment to learn the Haida language from her grandmother Nonnie Mary Swanson, one of the last living people who can speak, read and write in Haida.

The True Cost of Coal
Brittany Hunsaker, Autumn Nikki King and Willa Johnson of Appalachian Media Institute, Appalshop, Inc. —US —2007 —14m —doc
In English

Coal mining is a way of life and death in Eastern Kentucky. Despite over 100 years of mining, the communities that provide this work force remain some of the most poverty-stricken and contaminated areas in the United States. As energy prices soar and the government and coal companies unite to increase coal extraction, mountain communities rally to protect their rights.

The Hidden Cost of Cashmere
Zane Scheuerlein, Member of Open Youth Networks – US—2007—3m—doc
In English

THE HIDDEN COST OF CASHMERE cleverly links America's appetite for cheap consumer goods with desertification and the growing environmental crisis.

A Maid Is Not A Slave (Mbindaan Du Jaam)
Mariama Marena, Seynabou Ciss, Dioundiouba Diagne, Marietou Ndoye Seck, Salimata Sow, Aissatou Gueye Seye, Aminata Deme, Dieynaba Kone; of Mariama Ba Girls Boarding School – Senegal, West Africa—2007—5m—drama
In French with English Subtitles

Kine, a young Senegalese girl is sent to the city to work as a maid in order to support her family back home. When her employers begin to abuse her - who is there to protect her?

Slave Label
Philosophy students from Queen Elizabeth School in partnership with Whitewood & Fleming– U.K.—2007— 18m—doc
In English

How much do your new jeans cost? Who made them and how much did they get paid? Two teenage girls embark on an eye-opening journey as they discover the dark truth behind the clothing industry and take a stand for change.

Playing with the Other Tigers
Zachary Lennon-Simon of Reel Works Teen Filmmaking—US—2007—10m—doc
In English

The story of two childhood best friends, Amir who is Muslim and Zach who is half-Jewish. When Amir is harassed after 9/11, their friendship takes on added significance.

A Promise to the Dead (New York premiere)
Peter Raymont—Canada—2006—92m—35mm—doc
In English and Spanish with English subtitles

"... my first September 11th had been in 1973, when terror was also inflicted on the innocent, when death also rained down from the sky, sending me into exile, making me into the man I have now become..." —Ariel Dorfman

On September 11, 1973, Chile's military attacked its government. As the coup took hold, the democratically elected president Salvador Allende called government members to the presidential palace to stand against their attackers, facing certain death. Ariel Dorfman was Allende's cultural advisor, and should have been called too; he later discovered his name had been struck from the list so he could live to tell what happened that day. Three decades later, Dorfman is an internationally respected writer and human rights activist, winner of the Sir Laurence Olivier Award for the play "Death and the Maiden." Filmmaker Peter Raymont travels to Chile with Dorfman in late 2006, at the time when Augusto Pinochet, Allende's overthrower and Dorfman's long-time nemesis, is dying. Raymont follows Dorfman through emotional reunions with his friends and fellow resistors, to personal landmarks that are powerful both emotionally and historically. During the journey they explore exile, memory and the search for justice.


To See if I'm Smiling (New York premiere)
Tamar Yarom—Israel—2007—59m—video—doc
In Hebrew with English subtitles

Israel is the only country in the world where 18-year-old girls are drafted for compulsory military service. To See If I'm Smiling is a disturbing look at the actions and behavior of women soldiers in the Israeli army who, stationed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, help maintain the 40-year-old occupation of Palestinian territories. The women in the film, veterans who've tried to bury the past for years, finally speak openly about their experiences. Deeply personal interviews are dramatically interwoven with both archival footage and details of the women's daily lives. One woman recounts how she posed for a photo with a Palestinian corpse. She searches for that picture, saying, "I wanted to see if I'm smiling." At a time when women in the military are increasingly on the frontlines, this powerful film explores the ways that gender, ethics, and moral responsibility intersect during war.


About The Sanctuary for Independent Media
The Sanctuary for Independent Media is a telecommunications production facility dedicated to community media arts, located in an historic former church at 3361 6th Avenue in north Troy, NY. The Sanctuary hosts screening, production and performance facilities, training in media production and a meeting space for artists, activists and independent media makers of all kinds.  Emailing info"at" is the best way to reach us. You can also phone (518) 272-2390 on the night of an event.

About iEAR Presents!
Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer (iEAR Presents!) is a series of public performances, exhibitions, screenings and lectures.  Curated by artist faculty, iEAR Presents! seeks to bring artists into a creative dialogue regarding integrated electronic arts practice and theory with a participatory community of faculty and students from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and members of the general public. For disability services for West Hall events, including wheelchair access, please call (518) 276-2746.  This series is sponsored in part by the New York State Council on the Arts.


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