Posts Tagged ‘film makers’

Festivals and Human Rights NGOs Call For Release Of Belarus Festival Director Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska

April 15, 2021

Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska
Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska Watch Docs Film Festival

Tom Grater in Deadline.com of 14 April 2021 reports how an unusual collective of human rights organizations, film festivals and industry have called for the release of Tatsiana (Tanya) Hatsura-Yavorska, the director of the Watch Docs Festival in Belarus, who was arrested on April 5 for her role in organizing an underground photo exhibition celebrating health workers.

The Human Rights Film Network and the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk have put out a joint open letter calling on authorities to release Hatsura-Yavorska, who is regarded as a political prisoner, as well as others who have been incarcerated in the country. The letter has been signed by a broad selection of film festivals and organizations including Sundance and Berlin.

“We urge the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release our colleague Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska and other human rights defenders, and to end acts of judicial harassment against them,” the letter reads. You can see it in full here.

Following the event that she jointly organized, which was titled Machine Is Breathing, and I Am Not and was dedicated to the country’s medics and their battle during the pandemic, Hatsura-Yavorska was initially fined 700 Belarusian rubles for “protesting against police” and placed in a detention facility. She has not been released and is now facing trial on charges of ‘raising money for protests’, with her court hearing set to take place 16 April according to those close to her. It is thought she could face several years in prison.

Maciej Nowicki, Director of Poland’s Watch Docs Film Festival, told Deadline that “it is still unclear on what grounds” Hatsura-Yavorska is being prosecuted.

“Numerous reports by the UN, other international organizations and NGOs, unfortunately, have documented various types of violations of law and human rights in Belarus, including the rights of persons deprived of their liberty. This is why we are truly concerned about Tanya,” he continued. “Tanya is an amazing and beautiful person, as well as a very strong one. But now she needs our solidarity.”

A collection of Belarusian organizations and associations also released a statement this weekend, which read: “We consider the persecution of Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska by the authorities to be politically motivated, aimed at stopping her public and non-violent activities aimed at protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

See also: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/b5785052-8efa-42e7-8508-d6de0a8c1b3d

Elsewhere, Filmmaker Mark Cousins penned an article for The Guardian expressing his support for Hatsura-Yavorska, detailing how he interacted with the festival exec though his work with the Belfast Film Festival. “Nonfiction cinema is our lingua franca. Those who speak it to governments should be defended,” Cousins wrote.

https://deadline.com/2021/04/call-for-release-imprisoned-belarus-fest-director-tatsiana-hatsura-yavorska-1234734095/

Sad story continues: Saba Sahar, Afghanistan’s First Female Film Director, shot

August 26, 2020

saba sahar
Saba Sahar facebook

Afghan actress Saba Sahar was reportedly shot in Kabul on Tuesday 25 August. Her husband Emal Zaki told the BBC that three gunmen opened fire on the car she was traveling in on her way to work just five minutes from their house, the outlet reported. Zaki said that Sahar was one of five people in the vehicle, including the driver, two bodyguards and a child, according to the BBC. It was not clear if the child was one of Sahar’s children. Both bodyguards reportedly also sustained injuries from the shooting, according to BBC. In addition to her work as an actress and director, Sahar is a trained police officer and women’s rights advocate.

Afghanistan: The rise in attacks and assassination attempts on human rights defenders, political activists, journalists and film actors is extremely worrying,” Amnesty International South Asia said in a tweet on Tuesday, responding to the news of the attack on Sahar.  See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/06/30/car-bomb-kills-two-human-rights-workers-in-afghanistan/

In an interview with The Guardian in 2012 she said:  “I want to show the conservatives who lock their daughters and wives at home that they should let them out to get an education, earn some money and help rebuild Afghanistan,” she said, adding that she has received death threats from anonymous phone callers. “They told me to say goodbye to my loved ones because I’d soon be dead.” After reporting the threats to authorities, Sahar said the calls only continued. “They called me again and asked why I’d gone to the authorities,” she said. “They said that even if the whole government is behind you, we will still kill you. We will murder you on the street, in public.” “Every morning when I leave the house, I know I might get killed, might never see my family again,” she told The Guardian at the time.

update to Mona’s campaign for her sister

August 7, 2020

Following up on https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2020/08/06/re-issued-passionate-plea-for-help-in-open-letter-by-mona-seif-from-egypt-about-targeting-of-her-family, here an update to the campaign:.
More than 200 prominent artists, along with nearly two dozen leading human rights groups and film organizations, are calling for the immediate release of activist and film editor Sanaa Seif — who was arrested in Cairo last month and remains behind bars in remand detention. Signatories to the public statement are also calling for the release of all those unjustly detained in Egypt.

Among the signatories are Nobel Prize, Academy Award, Pulitzer Prize, Booker Prize and British Academy Film Awards winners, including: Juliette Binoche, Laurent Cantet, Noam Chomsky, JM Coetzee, Judi Dench, Claire Denis, Dave Eggers, Danny Glover, Paul Greengrass, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Hall, Naomie Harris, Khaled Hosseini, Anish Kapoor, Naomi Klein, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Paul Mason, Simon McBurney, Ruth Negga, Thandie Newton, Michael Ondaatje, Philip Pullman, Miranda Richardson, Andrea Riseborough, Arundhati Roy, and Stellan Skarsgård.

Leading advocacy groups, including Amnesty International, PEN International, Human Rights Watch and Reprieve have also signed onto the letter, as have prominent film organizations, including Sundance Institute, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the European Film Academy and Société des Réalisateurs de Films.

The full of signatories is available online at: https://www.freedomfor.network/sanaa

 

Filmmaker and human rights defender Shady Habash dies in Egyptian pre-trial detention

May 2, 2020

Shady Habash, 24, was a film director and cinematographer (Instagram/@ShadyHabash)

On 2 May 2020 the Middle East Eye reported that Egyptian film director and photographer Shady Habash reportedly passed away in Tora prison in the capital Cairo on Friday, according to human rights organisations.

Continuing Egypt’s revolution from exile: Ramy Essam and Ganzeer

[Habash and his colleague Mustafa Gamal were arrested following the release of Balaha, a song that indirectly poked fun at Sisi, the former defence minister who came to power after a military coup ousted president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Essam, the singer who performed Balaha, is currently in exile in Sweden. The author of the song, Galal el-Beheiry, is also in jail.  “Balaha” is a derogatory nickname for Sisi, in reference to a character from a classic Egyptian movie known for being a compulsive liar. A statement by Essam after Habash’s arrest said that the director “doesn’t have anything to do with the content and message of the song”. Charges brought against Habash and Gamal include membership of a “terrorist group,” spreading false news, abuse of social media networks, blasphemy, contempt of religion and insulting the military. They have both been in pre-trial detention pending investigations since their arrests.]

Human Rights Watch has estimated that more than 60,000 political prisoners have been languishing in Egyptian jails since Sisi became president in 2014.  The former army general has routinely jailed critics, including secular and Muslim Brotherhood politicians, journalists, and human rights defenders. Hundreds have died in custody through medical negligence or other poor detention conditions.

On 5 May Egypt’s public prosecutor said that alcohol poisoning caused the death in jail of this young video maker after he drank liquid sanitiser he had mistaken for water.  https://news.yahoo.com/egyptian-video-maker-died-alcohol-poisoning-jail-prosecutor-015419633.html

For some older posts on Egypt, see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/egypt/

Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival with help of Canada train film makers in human rights

March 1, 2018

 The trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) and Canadian High Commission are teaming up to encourage the making of local short films on human rights issues, as part of a filmmakers development programme that began in 2017, reports Loop on 27 February 2018.

The ‘Human Rights on Film’ training programme encourages 14 filmmakers and writers who participated in a scriptwriting workshop with Canadian-Jamaican film professional, Annmarie Morais, last year, to put their training into practice. A panel of three judges, including a representative from The National Film Board of Canada and from the Canadian High Commission in Trinidad, will select the best three scripts. Trinidadian-born, National Film Board of Canada producer, Selwyn Jacobs, will then conduct a two-day workshop on how to move from the scriptwriting phase to production and post-production. The completed films will screen at ttff/18.

According to Annabelle Alcazar, Programme Director of the ttff: “This programme marries our interest in developing the skills of local filmmakers and writers, with advancing the conversations on human rights in Trinidad and Tobago.  We are excited about this project and look forward to seeing how filmmakers rise to the challenge of using their artistic knowledge and skill to bring these important issues alive.”

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/09/04/trinidad-and-tobagos-film-festival-will-have-again-a-human-rights-award/

Amila Sampath: the man behind the video service of “Just Asia”

January 16, 2017

I have on many occasions referred to the admirable initiative of the AHRC to try and bring visual aspects to human right work [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/21/just-asia-just-continues-with-its-human-rights-television/]. So, I was glad to come across the story by Nilantha Ilangamuwa in the Sri Lankan Guardian of 3 November 2016 about the “The Man behind the video service Just Asia”!

amila_sampath_srilanka
Amila Sampath: “I make videos, that’s my tool, I believe this is one of the significant ways to raise the voice of the voiceless

Read the rest of this entry »

Possible funding for training independent journalists exposing human rights abuses

May 19, 2016

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Giselle Portenier (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)

Independent documentary-makers and freelance journalists working to expose human rights abuses can compete for a bursary to help them obtain hostile environment training, more usually made available to journalists working in war zones. The 2016 Portenier Human Rights Bursary competition, offered by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, opened on 16 May and closes on June 30. The annual bursary, introduced last year, is sponsored by the documentary-maker Giselle Portenier. Read the rest of this entry »

500 signatories demand release of Indian filmmaker Sarangi

April 4, 2016

A remarkably large and diversified group of some 500 film makers, writers, professionals in the area of art & culture, academics, activists and social organisations demand the release of Indian filmmaker and human rights defender Deba Rajan Sarangi in an open letter published on 3 April 2016.

They state that they are deeply shocked to hear about his arrest on 18 March, 2016, by plainclothes policemen from the Kucheipadar village of Rayagada District, Odisha. Debaranjan was in Kucheipadar to attend a funeral. He was arrested with a non-bailable warrant issued by the court of JMFC, Kashippur in pursuance of a case registered in Tikri police station of Rayagada district in 2005, when Debaranjan was actively involved in the struggle of the Adivasis in Kashipur to protect their lands from the invasion of the bauxite mining companies…

Deba Ranjan Sarangi has highlighted and critiqued policies of destructive development, unbridled mining practices, displacement, police impunity, atrocities on Dalits, Adivasi issues , growth of communal fascism in Odisha, violence on women and farmers’ suicide in the context of acute agrarian. Deba Ranjan has been put behind bars because he had the courage to show what he witnessed to the world through his expressions of film making, writing and speech. He is neither a Maoist nor a terrorist. We call upon the Odisha government to address the issues raised by the human rights defenders in the State of Odisha rather than imprisoning them and crushing the voices of film makers. We call upon the Odisha government to desist from such disgraceful attempts of violating the Indian Constitution and Indian democracy.
The link below gives a partial list of signatories:

Source: 500 Artists, Activists And Writers Demand Filmmaker Sarangi’s Release

Documentary Filmmakers and Human Rights Defenders: the Impact Awards

November 22, 2014

A blog that pride itself to follow with special interest what is happening in the area of film making and human rights defenders, cannot pass up this post by Queen Noor of Jordan in the Huffington Post of 21 November 2014: “Today, as the winners of the 2014 Impact Award are announced, is a good day to honour the work of documentary filmmakers everywhere. In particular, their role in documenting, highlighting and explaining human rights abuses and human rights protests even in places that western journalists cannot reach.” The growing availability of cheap small recording devices over the past years has been a major development for filmmakers and human rights defenders, allowing stories to emerge even from ‘difficult’ countries.

no fire zone

(No Fire Zone – one of the winners of BRITDOC Impact Award 2014)

Four years ago, when I was part of the first Impact Award jury, we gave a special mention to the film Burma VJ. I was struck by the bravery of the Burmese video journalists who were able to capture the striking images of the Saffron Revolution. 

This year, the Impact Award is honouring No Fire Zone, which examines the closing days of the Sri Lankan civil war against the Tamil Tigers, a deeply shocking account of an assault against civilians, which premiered at the United Nations Human Rights Council and played a crucial role in the Council’s decision this year to finally order an independent review of the death of 70,000 civilians. [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/11th-human-rights-film-festival-starts-1st-march-in-geneva-with-a-bang-that-upsets-sri-lanka/]

Other films being awarded this year are: GranitoBlackfishAmerican Promise and The House I Live In.

Documentary Filmmakers Piece Together The Truth | Queen Noor of Jordan.

Remembering Clyde Snow, unusual human rights defender

September 26, 2014

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Only now did I see the tribute paid by filmmakers Paco de Onis and Pamela Yates to the American forensic anthropologist turned human rights defender Clyde Snow who passed away on 16 May 2014.  Clyde was a tall Texan with an easygoing manner that masked a tenacious commitment to finding the truth and advancing justice through the science of forensic anthropology, applied to the exhumation of victims of mass atrocities. As Clyde often said, “the bones tell stories.”  And these were stories that often helped land the perpetrators of heinous crimes in prison, from Argentina to Guatemala, the Balkans, Rwanda and beyond.

Clyde’s work lives on through the crack forensic anthropology teams he formed in Argentina, Guatemala and Peru, two of which are featured in the films “State of Fear” (Peru) and “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” (Guatemala).

This Saturday 27 September there is a memorial service in Norman, Oklahoma, where he lived with his wife Jerry.