Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2020

Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2020

Now in its 24th edition, the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival returns to London this week, taking place at the Barbican Cinema, Curzon Soho, and Regent Street Cinema. With fourteen films selected – eleven of them directed by women – it’s a truly global line-up, with the documentaries and features hailing from Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Guatemala, Germany, Iran, Macedonia, Mexico, Peru, Romania, the United States, and Vietnam.

Many of the screenings are set to be followed by lively Q&As with the filmmakers and human rights activists. For those unable to make it to the cinema, select titles will also be available online thanks to a partnership with streaming service MUBI.

Among the documentaries playing is Juliana Fanjul’s Radio Silence, a story that takes us back to Mexico in 2015 when journalist Carmen Aristegui is fired from the radio station where she works, despite a huge following of 18 million listeners. Her reaction? Build a separate platform where she can expose issues of fake news and government corruption.

Christina Antonakos-Wallace’s doc From Here, meanwhile, spans a decade in time as it examines immigration in both New York and Berlin. Following four artists and activists as their lives unfold, living in societies where issues of racism and nationalism are prominent, the film keenly observes as they all move from their twenties to their thirties, with many looking to start families and fight for citizenship.

Among the feature films playing in the festival: César Diaz’ debut drama Our Mothers, which won the Caméra d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The story follows Ernesto (Armando Espitia, who featured in Heli), a young forensic anthropologist who is tasked with identifying missing victims of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, a role that ultimately leads him on a search for his own father, who disappeared in the war.

Closing the festival is Rubaiyat Hossain’s debut drama, Made In Bangladesh, which sets out to examine the exploitation of the clothing industry. Inspired by stories that Hossain encountered as a women’s rights activist, it follows Shimu Rikita (Nandini Shimu), a determined factory worker who battles to create a union where she works, despite roadblocks set up by her husband, her bosses and the government officials.

Human Rights Watch Film Festival runs until March 20th. For more details, visit here.

James Mottram