All photos courtesy of fifdh.org
The full line-up of films and speakers at this year’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) was overwhelming in its combined expertise and activism. This year’s festival, which coincides each year with the annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, was organised under the theme of “awakening.”
WILPF is dedicated to the protection of human rights, so in an effort to learn from the activists and artists who participated at FIFDH, WILPF International staff members attended several films and events. We have shared our thoughts and observations below.
We would like to invite you to explore the full programme and online resources at fifdh.org, where you can find the full list of films, video recordings of speakers, and ongoing initiatives to protect and campaign for human rights. Follow the hashtag #Standupforhumanrights.
FIFDH opened with a filming of the Freedom for the Wolf, a documentary film on the fragility of democracy, and a key-note address from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid bin Ra’ad. The rest of the week was an exploration into human rights issues around the world, both high-profile and not. The films explored transgender rights in France, international apathy to the journey of Syrian refugees, water pollution in Indonesia, the effect of fake news on democracy, Rohingya genocide, war’s influence on children in Ukraine, and urbanisation in China, among dozens more topics.
The festival was filled not only with documentary, but fiction and animated films, as well as panels, discussions, readings, music, and virtual reality exhibitions. The bulk of this content can be found online at fifdh.org, along with video recordings of many of the speeches. Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei, Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, Director-General of the ICRC Yves Daccord, and President of la Confederation Alain Berset were just a few of the insightful speakers who shared their thoughts and opinions at the forum.
In addition, this year the FIFDH will also be partnering with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For a year, from 10 December 2017, the organisations mentioned will be conducting a tour in 45 countries, and the Swiss embassies will be organising events “based on the FIFDH format: screenings followed by debates with local NGOs, journalists, students and activists,” as explained on fifdh.org.
Films were also submitted to the festival’s international competitions in fiction and documentary. Stranger in Paradise, which “brilliantly challenges the absurdity of asylum polities, but also that of our own representations,” was awarded the Grand Geneva Award. The Cleaners, recognised for exploring “the rapidly accelerating digital matrix that resists regulation, let alone true comprehension,” received the Gilda Vieira de Mello Award, and The Distant Barking of Dogs, “the story of a war close to home” won the Youth Jury Award.
In the fiction category, the Grand Award was given to Los versos del olvido, for its “universal and deeply intimate” painting of life and death under a dictatorship. The Youth Jury Award in fiction was bestowed on Matar a Jesús, for its “remarkable aestheticism and ability to convey the feelings of the protagonists through feelings.” The full list of awards and mentions is available online.
For a little direction, here are the events that WILPF staff attended, and a few of our thoughts. #standup4humanrights!