17th Human Rights Watch London Film Festival from March 13

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 06, 2013 06:20 hrs

The 17th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be presented in London from March 13 to 22, 2013.

The program this year is organized around four themes: traditional values and human rights - incorporating women's rights, disability rights, and LGBT rights; crises and migration; focus on Asia/South Asia; and occupation and the rule of law.

"In addition to our opening film, Kim Longinotto's extraordinary Salma, and the closing film, Haifaa Al Mansour's Wajdja, another five festival titles reveal not only the tension between traditional values and women's rights, but also the resilience shown by the women featured - which is inspirational," said John Biaggi, film festival director at Human Rights Watch. "From start to finish, the directors pull no punches. We are delighted to welcome Raoul Peck back to the festival this year with his provocative and powerful indictment of the international community's post-disaster efforts in Haiti".

The program includes 14 documentaries and five dramas, set in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordon, Morocco, North Korea, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Tanzania. Many of the films will be followed by question and answer sessions, and discussions with filmmakers, experts, and film subjects.

The festival will begin on March 13 at the Curzon Mayfair with a fundraising benefit and reception for Human Rights Watch, with Kim Nguyen's drama War Witch, an Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film. The film was shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a cast of non-professional actors, including Rachel Mwanza, the lead, who won a Silver Bear for best actress at the Berlin Film Festival 2012. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Kim Nguyen, and David Mepham, UK director at Human Rights Watch.

On March 22, the Curzon Soho will host the opening night film and reception, with an exclusive preview of Kim Longinotto's Salma, a story of courage and resilience. As a young Muslim girl in India, Salma was forced into seclusion once she reached puberty. Forbidden to study and pushed into a marriage, she covertly composed poems on scraps of paper. Against the odds, she became a famous poet, the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village. Now Salma has hopes for a different life for the next generation of girls, but as she sees, familial ties run deep and change is slow. Longinotto, a British filmmaker, will take part in a discussion after the screening.

The closing night film and reception will take place on March 22 at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, with Haifaa Al Mansour's drama Wadjda, the first full-length feature film shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia. It tells the story of a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of the capital, Riyadh. After a fight with her friend, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately but Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. So Wadjda decides to try to raise the money herself. A cash prize for a Quran recitation competition at her school leads Wadjda to become a model pious girl as she devotes herself to memorizing Quranic verses. She is determined to fight for her dreams... with or without society's approval. (ANI)

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