Posts Tagged ‘Documentary film’

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

Documentary on Discovery series explores ‘Why We Hate’

October 18, 2019

A counter-protester gives a white supremacist the middle finger. The white supremacists responds with a Nazi salute. Charlottesville August 12, 2017.

A counter-protester gives a white supremacist the middle finger. The white supremacists responds with a Nazi salute. Charlottesville August 12, 2017. (Photo: Evan Nesterak)

writes in Citizen Truth of 17 new documentary series titled “Why We Hate” which premiered Sunday on the Discovery Channel and explores “one of humanity’s most primal and destructive emotions – hate.” Directed by Sam Pollard and Geeta Gandbhir and produced by Hollywood veteran Steven Spielberg, the six-part docuseries aims to help people understand their own minds to prevent hatred from spreading.

Pollard made no bones about the subject matter’s relation to America today, telling NPR: “If you think about where we are in the United States with Trump as president, the idea that he demonizes people from other countries, specifically Mexico — that’s another way to sort of separate us from them.” He then went on to compare it to the worst outcomes for such divisiveness: genocide, as with the Holocaust in Germany during World War II, and Cambodia.

The isolation of disadvantaged persons and groups can also lead to extremism, Pollard believes — referencing skinheads and gang members who are seeking a family to belong to. This appeals to the tribal nature of humans, which in turn leads to contempt towards outsiders.

Co-director Gandbhir insists that hate “is something that we all have in common. It is not unique to one society or one group of people.” “Why We Hate” manages to show a wide variety of how hate is manifested, such as: a campaign in Colombia to reunify a bitterly divided country from the decades of war between government forces and FARC guerrillas; a de-radicalized white American man who now works to reform white supremacists; pro- and anti-Trump activists; the Israeli and Palestinian conflict; easily angered soccer hooligans and survivors of the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar….Surely in our culturally and politically divisive times, this is a timely subject to tackle and learn more about.

Timely New Documentary Series Explores ‘Why We Hate’

Hell and Hope: a documentary film about three women who escaped ISIS and made a new life in Germany

August 13, 2019

‘Hell & Hope’. This documentary is filmed in Germany in 2018, where 1,100 Yazidi survivors of ISIS brutalities found refuge. There, they have managed to rebuild shattered lives even as mothers and sisters are missing – presumed enslaved or killed – fathers and brothers dead. Before it was too late for Salwa in Iraq’s Sinjar, before the militants came, she says it was Yazidi men who prevented them from running.The men refused to run despite their wives asking them to. ‘We men don’t run away, we stay and fight’. But the women didn’t know how to drive, so they couldn’t run either. I doubt if in all of Sinjar, even four women know how to drive – if they knew how to drive, they would have escaped and survived. The men could’ve stayed and fought if that was what they wanted. They should have fought and not let us face what we faced.” said Salwa, Yazidi Survivor Knowing how to drive seems like a small thing, in the grand scale of what was happening in Iraq and Syria. And yet it is that small independence they were denied that might have made all the difference.

The camera follows three women – Lamiya, Salwa and Bazi – as they go about their lives in Germany; to classes, to work. Lamiya was one of two Yazidi women survivors who won the EU’s prestigious human rights award – the Sakharov Prize – for their work in advocating for their besieged community. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/11/01/sakharov-prize-2016-went-ultimately-to-two-yazidi-women/]

……

Despite the gripping horror of each story, there is not much different in the perspectives offered than what we’ve heard over the years now in countless pieces of reporting – the kidnappings, the slavery, the killings. What’s new is the fine detail that comes out when you have multiple women tell broadly the same story; the banality of evil.

Two of the three women who spoke expressed disgust, contempt and were especially distressed by the encouragement given to Daesh terrorists by their wives. It was felt as a deeper betrayal, even though Salwa explains why they did it: “What we saw was that the women encouraged their husbands. This is why I always say that women should see the world and get an education. They controlled women’s minds. What was Daesh telling their wives? They would say that women don’t go to heaven, that a woman is incomplete. Only men go to heaven, so in this life, women must please their husbands, and when they go to heaven, they can ask for their wives to join them. After a Daesh militant kills Yazidis, because they are infidels, he will go to heaven and if he is satisfied with his wife, he will ask for her to come.”

..how did they make it out of that hell? The German government reached out. “The girls did not apply for asylum. The government of the German state of Baden Württemberg came up with a special quota program to give girls, children and other victims a direct residence permit for 3 years.” Amish Srivastava, Director, Hell & Hope…

Watching the documentary is an exhausting experience, but the viewer is forewarned. One of the first lines that appear on the screen is “Girls risked their lives to escape Islamic State captivity. Few succeeded.”

https://www.thequint.com/entertainment/movie-reviews/hell-and-hope-isis-yazidi-women-escaped

Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela in film Whispering Truth to Power

August 12, 2019

An award-winning documentary following Thuli Madonsela’s time as Public Protector has officially been released. The film focuses mostly on Madonsela’s last year in office and is called Whispering Truth to Power.
Behind-the-scenes footage shows Madonsela’s fight for justice for ordinary South Africans. As Public Protector for South Africa, Thuli Madonsela made an impact. The film has won the Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs, a collection of awards at FESPACO, Luxor African Film Festival and Jozi Film Festival.
Madonsela has become a celebrated name for many in South Africa, after she managed to successfully challenge former SA President, Jacob Zuma, on his illegal use of state funds. “In other countries, people don’t know who the ombudsman is,” Madonsela’s son, Wantu explains, “If the government is doing their job properly, then the ombudsman is not this celebrated figure who is fighting the good fight, because there shouldn’t be that fight.” The documentary is filmmaker, Shameela Seedat’s first ever release. The documentary on Madonsela is available to stream at Showmax.
Read more: https://briefly.co.za/35068-award-winning-documentary-thuli-madonsela-officially-out.html

FOR SAMA also wins award at Durban International Film Festival 2019

July 25, 2019

On 25 July 2019 the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) announced that the Amnesty International Durban Human Rights Award 2019 has gone to: For Sama directed by Edward Watts and Waad al-Kateab. The film earlier won Galway’s: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/16/31st-galway-film-festival-honors-for-sama-as-best-human-rights-film/

40th Durban International Film Festival award winners 2019

31st Galway Film festival honors ‘For Sama’ as best human rights film

July 16, 2019

Galway Film Fleadh 2019 award winners chosen

On Sunday July 14, 2019 the 31st Galway Film Fleadh came to a close after many Irish and international film premieres, screenings, workshops and discussions. On the last day of the festival, the film fleadh held it annual awards honouring the best of the filmmakers working in every discipline who brought their work to showcase in Galway. The best Human Rights Film (chosen in association with Amnesty International) wasFor Sama” (https://www.forsamafilm.comDirector Waad al-Kateab & Edward Watts – Producer Waas Al-Kateab). The documentary film is an intimate yet epic journey into the female experience of war. The film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria,’ and the choices she has to make to protect her daughter.

Awards given at the 16th Human Rights Film Festival in Geneva

March 19, 2018

The FIFDH just announced the OFFICIAL AWARDS of its 16th festival (2018) in Geneva. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/02/27/16th-international-film-festival-and-forum-on-human-rights-starts-on-9-march/]. Here a summary: Read the rest of this entry »

Full Trailer for the documentary ‘Quest’ – A Portrait of an American Family

November 6, 2017

Quest Documentary Trailer

“All we can do is roll with the punches…” First Run Features has unveiled a trailer for a documentary titled Quest, described as a “portrait of an American family” filmed over the course of almost a decade. This “epic in scope” documentary follows a couple in North Philadelphia – Christopher “Quest” Rainey, and his wife, Christine’a “Ma Quest” Rainey – as they raise a family in a poverty stricken neighborhood. This premiered at Sundance and has played at tons of festivals all year, picking up numerous awards including Human Rights awards, Jury Prizes, Audience Awards. Not to be confused with the feature film also titled Quest, about the graffiti-loving youngster.  Here’s the official trailer (+ poster) for Jonathan Olshefski’s documentary Quest, in high def on Apple:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/240185573?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0

Quest Documentary Poster

 

Source: Full Trailer for ‘Quest’ Documentary – A Portrait of an American Family | FirstShowing.net

Urgent: Martin Ennals Award 2017 – live streaming of ceremony on 10 October

October 9, 2017

The 2017 ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders will take place on 10 October in Geneva at 18h15 CET. For the many people who cannot attend in person, there is the possibility of following the event on screen via: https://www.facebook.com/villegeneve.ch/

The ceremony is in English and French and features 3 short documentaries on the finalists as well as the announcement of the Laureate 2017 which the Jury of the MEA decided on this morning.

For more info see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/06/28/save-the-date-10-october-2017-ceremony-martin-ennals-award-for-human-rights-defenders-in-geneva/

The Code, a documentary film project, needs support….and soon

July 6, 2017

An ambitious documentary project has 7 days left to find the funding via Kickstarter:

Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge who took the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to justice, is leading a movement of legal ‘warriors’ from all over the world to guarantee the international punishment of major economic, financial and environmental crimes. The tool to achieve their goal can be summed up in two words: Universal Jurisdiction. The movement composed of judges, prosecutors and lawyers tries to promote the international denouncement of actions such as food speculation, issuing junk bonds, squandering public funds and large-scale contamination. These crimes should, as genocides and war crimes, be designated as Crimes Against Humanity and prosecuted internationally.

History is filled with visionaries who understood before others that practices such as slavery, colonialism and apartheid were not part of the natural order of things: they were immoral actions carried out by a minority and should be considered as crimes. Today, this international movement led by Baltasar Garzón tries to expose that financial fraud is not a systemic problem but a premeditated act, and should be considered as criminal behaviour. The aim of the group is to foster a new Universal Jurisdiction code of principles and fight alongside the civil society to ensure its application.

During the Universal Jurisdiction Congress (Buenos Aires, September 2015), a new list of Crimes Against Humanity was drafted. After countless debates between experts from the six continents, the list now includes economical and environmental infractions. All these efforts must now work their way to national legislations. On a planet with almost 8 billion people, irresponsible economic decisions can be disastrous. With all their effort, the legal warriors work together towards a common goal: cease with the impunity of economic and environmental crimes.

In the Kickstarter post, the Director, states For me it’s an important task to help people understand the juridical language, given the historical isolation of the judicial power and its perverse use by the political and economic powers. Democratize juridical language, understand judicial mechanisms and point out their actors, all this with the support of a hundred of the most prestigious international jurists who have united to fight against impunity in major economic and environmental crimes, is a noble objective.  This documentary is about heroes, brave jurists, classical characters of film noir

Our team has been working on this project for three years now and is very committed to it. We think that if the fight of the legal warriors is made public, citizens will be able to pressure their political powers to include changes in national legislations and international relations.  We are talking about establishing a new code of social conduct, a code of human relationships, consistent with the challenges of living on a planet in constant evolution.  We interviewed tens of professionals and filmed in three countries so far: Argentina, Spain and Senegal, where we attended in May 2016 to the end of Hissène Habré’s trial for crimes against humanity during his dictatorship in Chad.

We now need your support to finish the production and get this film out to the world where it can make a difference! After three years working on this project, we are launching a crowdfunding campaign to find the necessary funding to finish the film. All funds we raise will enable our team to finish production, access film footage, and cover the editing and postproduction costs. We are confident that if we meet our goal, we will be able to finish the film before the end of 2017.

This is how we will use the money:

 

see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/universal-jurisdiction/