Archive for the 'films' Category

hajooj kuka: another case for the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR)

September 20, 2020

He, along with four other artists (Duaa Tarig Mohamed Ahmed, Abdel Rahman Mohamed Hamdan, Ayman Khalaf Allah Mohamed Ahmed, and Ahmed Elsadig Ahmed Hammad), have been jailed for two months in Khartoum following an attack on the Civic Lab, where they were creating  art for community engagement.

hajooj kuka is an exceptional filmmaker and TIFF has been proud to present his work,” said Vicente and Bailey. “His films Beats of the Antonov and aKasha revealed a singular view of life in Sudan through the eyes of a remarkable artist. hajooj, along with four other artists, is now in prison in Sudan and we need to bring attention to this urgent and troubling situation. When an artist is silenced, society as a whole suffers.

According to the Sudanese organization Gisa, where kuka is co-director: “The case, which was policed, prosecuted, and judged by al-Bashir era authorities, points to a dangerous backsliding in Sudan as oppressive laws put in place by the former regime continue to stifle free expression and target artists and human rights defenders.”

In an effort to increase awareness of kuka’s imprisonment and to demonstrate the value of artistic and political expression, both Beats of the Antonov and aKasha will be available to rent for free for a few days. TIFF also encouraged audiences to contact the Sudanese Embassy in their country and follow #ReleaseTheArtistsSudan on social media to learn more about this issue.

Two of kuka’s films, Beats of the Antonov (2014) and aKasha (2018), have premiered at TIFF, with the former winning the TIFF People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary.

TIFF Heads Call For Release Of Doc Filmmaker hajooj kuka, Jailed In Khartoum

​International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk Launched Officially

September 8, 2020

On September 7, 2020 IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) announced that an ​International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk has been launched officially in Venice.

To activate the film community’s collective response to cases of filmmakers facing severe risk, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the European Film Academy have joined forces in establishing the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk.

With civil society in danger around the world, filmmakers are increasingly struggling to make their voices heard. Over the past few years, the world has seen a growing number of filmmakers being threatened, arrested, imprisoned and even killed in an attempt to silence them.

In these critical situations, the international film community could make a difference in supporting campaigns for the freedom of these filmmakers or pressuring authorities for their release. As the response of the film community has so far been deeply fragmentized, more co-ordinated action is needed.

On the side of the Venice Film Festival, “Join the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR)” saw Marion Döring (Director, European Film Academy), Mike Downey, (Chairman, European Film Academy), Vanja Kaludjercic (Festival Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam), Orwa Nyrabia (Artistic Director, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) and Marjan van der Haar (Managing Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam) unite at the festival’s Spazio Incontri. To the invited festival attendees—film professionals and journalists—they explained the ICFR’s idea and activities:

The mission of the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk is to advocate for and to act in solidarity with filmmakers at risk. The Coalition will respond to cases of persecution or threats to the personal safety of these filmmakers and will defend their right to continue their work, by mobilizing the international film community.

Activities will include:

  • Advocacy
  • Accessing the support system
  • Monitoring and observatory.

That there is scope may be clear from the following examples:

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/26/sad-story-continues-saba-sahar-afghanistans-first-female-film-director-shot/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/07/update-to-monas-campaign-for-her-sister/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/05/02/filmmaker-and-human-rights-defender-shady-habash-dies-in-egyptian-pre-trial-detention/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/04/04/500-signatories-demand-release-of-indian-filmmaker-sarangi/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/06/26/human-rights-film-makers-kidnapped-in-sulu-philippines/

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2013/06/20/more-known-about-hrd-du-bin-in-detention-in-china-thanks-to-hu-jia/

https://www.idfa.nl/en/article/135007/international-coalition-for-filmmakers-at-risk-launched-officially-in-venice?utm_source=IDFA+Newsletters&utm_campaign=6cdd331ab2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_09_08_08_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_32b31333b2-6cdd331ab2-70115329

Bill Browder speaks about “his’ Global Magnitsky Act

August 29, 2020

The Human Rights Foundation published on 27 August this interview with Bill Browder in which international legal associate Michelle Gulino speaks with Browder about just how and why he’s become a thorn in Putin’s side, what makes the Kremlin such a threat to democracy and why Magnitsky legislation is so critical to address this threat, and finally, Sergei’s legacy and his message of resilience.On November 16, 2009, Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer of global financier Bill Browder, was murdered for uncovering a $230 million corruption scheme by officials within Russia’s Interior Ministry. Bill became a thorn in Putin’s side after he began a campaign to seek justice for Sergei through the Global Magnitsky Act, which implements visa bans and asset freezes against serious human rights abusers and corrupt officials.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/08/29/european-court-rules-on-sergei-magnitskys-death/ and

https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/05/08/the-case-for-smart-sanctions-against-individual-perpetrators/

 

Shirin Ebadi biopic: Until We Are Free

August 27, 2020

Harris says, “It’s been an honor to work with many remarkable Nobel Peace Laureates, including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Shirin Ebadi, as part of the PeaceJam Nobel Legacy film series and to lend my voice to Shirin’s story of fighting for women and children to be treated with basic human dignities.”

https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/20/08/p17263858/award-winning-producer-and-voiceover-actor-laurel-harris-narrates-shirin-ebadi-until-we-are-free-w

Iranian woman wins top award with religious freedom animation

August 26, 2020

An Iranian-born animator has won a top prize for her film about the importance of freedom of religion. Maral Karaee’s “District 18” tells the story of a little girl who lives in a world where people, animals of object of different colours – red, blue, green and yellow – are not allowed to mix. It won the Grand Prize in the Animation category in the Short Film Competition at the Empower Women Media and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. When the girl accidentally breaks the rules, she is fired from her job and made an outcast.

https://www.keepthefaith.co.uk/2020/08/25/iranian-christian-wins-top-award-for-religious-freedom-animation/

Second issue of Cypher Comics is out

August 25, 2020

In July 2020, Front Line Defenders launched Cypher (@cypher_comics on Instagram), a digital comics magazine that advances the organization’s storytelling and narrative framing work in collaboration with and in support of HRDs. Working with artists from around the world, including the award-winning visual storyteller, Beldan Sezen, as creative director, the ’zine is a monthly publication featuring stories of HRDs, their work and the challenges they face. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/07/23/new-cypher-comics-for-human-rights-defenders/]

If you are interested in an annual subscription to receive printed editions of Cypher, please email campaigns@frontlinedefenders.org, with ‘Subscription’ in the subject line, and you will be sent more information about options.

Cypher 02 (published on 18 July 2020) features an audio interview with Palestinian HRD and artist Hafez Omar – listen to the interview by clicking on the ‘Hafez Talks’ buttons when viewing the comcis in the ‘zine viewer below (the PDF file does not support the audio files).

Download Cypher Edition 02 PDF (no audio)

Human rights defender’s story: Maryam Al-Khawaja from Bahrain

August 3, 2020

On 17 July 2020 ISHR published this video of Maryam Al-Khawaja, who is a human rights defender from Bahrain/Denmark. She is the Vice-Chair of the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, a board member at ISHR, and a board member at CIVICUS.

see also; https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/maryam-al-khawaja/

https://www.ishr.ch/news/human-rights-defenders-story-maryam-al-khawaja-bahrain

Film “USA v Scott”: Humanitarian Aid Is Not a Crime

July 8, 2020

Murat Oztaskin – a member of The New Yorker’s editorial staff – wrote on 8 july 2020 a rich piece on the case of Scott Warren who was prosecuted for bringing water to migrants in the desert [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/29/also-in-usa-helping-migrants-is-criminalised-scot-warren-in-court-on-29-may/ ] He does so in reaction to the short documentary “USA v Scott”…

Warren was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and two counts of harboring, and faced up to twenty years in prison. The lead-up to his first trial, in May, 2019, is chronicled in the short documentary “USA v Scott.”….

“USA v Scott” is directed by Ora DeKornfeld, a twenty-nine-year-old filmmaker, and Isabel Castro, a thirty-year-old multimedia journalist who was born in Mexico. “I think we were both fundamentally inspired” to make the film, Castro told me, “because we saw it as such a seminal case.” In 2017 and early 2018, several No More Deaths volunteers, including Warren, were charged with federal misdemeanors for “littering” and “trespassing”—that is, for leaving water and other supplies along crossing routes in federal wildlife areas. But Warren’s arrest at the Barn proved a turning point in immigration enforcement. In early 2017, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s first Attorney General, directed federal prosecutors to use the law against harboring unauthorized migrants as a tool to help enforce the Administration’s zero-tolerance immigration agenda—until then, the law had been used almost exclusively against smugglers who trafficked migrants for profit. Warren was charged by Michael Bailey, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, a Trump appointee.

The film, which has screened at the Tribeca and Mountainfilm festivals, largely skirts politics, focussing instead on how the situation raised “moral questions for people who were living in Arizona,” Castro said. Warren frequently hosts roundtable discussions on immigration in Ajo, and the film opens on one such meeting. “Borders are supposed to keep us safe,” one member of the community says. “And now I have fear.” Another says, “My thing is, they wanna come here, they wanna come here for a better life so badly, but then they also wanna say, ‘Well, do it my old-country way.’ ” Warren listens patiently, nods. “Thank you for sharing that,” he says. The film also shows individual interviews with residents of Ajo. “To us, it’s normal,” one man says. “We’ve lived with [crossing migrants] all of our lives. It was never a big deal. And then the government stepped in and made a big deal out of it.”

Warren’s felony trial began in May, 2019. The documentary shows the tense months leading up to it, as he remains calm and diligently continues his work with No More Deaths. “We saw in Scott . . . someone who was doing very radical work but who was carrying himself in a very open and mild-mannered way,” DeKornfeld told me—someone who “could potentially connect not only with people who already agree with his politics but also those who don’t.” The trial ended, in June, in a hung jury.

Because the prosecution declined to drop all charges against Warren, the case went to a second trial, in November, where Warren was tried on the harboring charges. (The conspiracy charge was dropped, and the judge ruled that no mention of the Trump Administration’s policies could be included in the arguments.) The jury found him not guilty. After the verdict, Warren said, “The government failed in its attempt to criminalize basic human kindness.” Although Warren was vindicated, the fate of Sacaria-Goday and Perez-Villanueva remains unknown.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-new-yorker-documentary/usa-v-scott-and-the-fight-to-prove-that-humanitarian-aid-is-not-a-crime

Human Rights Foundation starts interview series: “Dissidents and Dictators” with Srdja Popovic

June 23, 2020

Human Rights Foundation


The first episode features Serbian protest organizer and peaceful revolutionary Srdja Popovic.

In just a few years, Srdja transformed from a college student in a band to the leader of a national movement that ended the fearsome dictatorship of Slobodan Milošević with clever tactics and movement building, all without a single shot fired. After the tyrant’s fall, Srdja went on to serve in Serbia’s National Assembly and later launched an organization called CANVAS that teaches the art of protest to democracy activists around the world. He is the author of Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World.

HRF chief strategy officer Alex Gladstein (@Gladstein) sat down with Srdja to discuss: How do you scale a movement of one up to millions of people? How do you overcome a regime that holds all the power and weapons? Why are peaceful revolutions much more successful than violent ones? Why are street movements like start-ups? Is it possible to sustain a movement during a global pandemic? How are protest movements around the world reacting to their new twin enemies, the coronavirus and the rise of authoritarianism?

[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/05/22/human-rights-foundation-announces-its-first-10-freedom-fellows/]

You can listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and you can watch the video versions on Youtube

Ressa’s ‘cyber libel’ conviction in the Philippines shocks

June 15, 2020

Several international and national outlets (here Christia Marie Ramos in INQUIRER.net of 15 June 2020) have reported with dismay on the conviction of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former research-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. in a cyber libel case in the Philippines. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/04/16/pulitzer-prizes-for-courageous-journalists-in-myanmar-and-philippines/

In a statement, Senator Francis Pangilinan said “The silencing of critics and the attacks on the media has been going on for three years now,” he said. “And unless we stand up, speak out, and vigorously oppose the tyranny in our midst, their conviction will not be the last” he added… Ressa and Santos are the first journalists to be found guilty of cyber libel.

In this context ABS-CBN was forced off the air after its television and radio broadcast operations nationwide were ordered shut a day after its 25-year-franchise expired.

Detained Senator Leila de Lima joined her colleagues in condemning Ressa and Santos’ conviction, saying it was “another demonstration” of the Duterte administration’s “weaponization of law against those who dare speak truth to power.” “Jailing me for over three years now is only one of the thousand sinister ways they are causing fear in the hearts of Filipinos who fight for what is just and right,” the senator said in a dispatch from Camp Crame. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/07/30/senator-de-lima-in-detention-in-philippines-receives-her-award/]

Meanwhile, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the guilty verdict against the Rappler CEO was an “obvious attack” against press freedom and an “attack against our democracy itself.” “We are now but a few steps away from Martial Law,” Trillanes, who has been critical of the Duterte administration, said in a statement.

Meanwhile in June 2020 a film on Maria Ressa won a film award:

http://Maria Ressa Film ‘A Thousand Cuts’ Wins Top Prize at New Zealand’s Doc Edge Festival

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Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1291753/pangilinan-hontiveros-slam-ressas-libel-conviction-urge-people-to-speak-out#ixzz6PQEJOfS1
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