Can a film festival change the world? Human Rights Watch aims to do just that

We’re all guilty of indulging in escapist blockbuster now and then. But in times such as ours, many movie-goers yearn for more substantial fare. Enter the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, celebrating its 20th year June 12-25 at the Film Society. Among the 32 films and 26 premieres, you’ll find humorous examination of unorthodox activism and even an Afghan spin on American Idol, plus films that probe the nuances of human experience across the globe. A few films to keep your eye out for:

  • A selection of the Sundance Film Festival,  The Reckoning tells the timely story of the International Criminal Court, an independent tribunal set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
  • The Yes Men are a sweet antidote in this world of TARP and Bernie Madoffs we live in. Per Wikipedia, they are: “a group of culture jamming activists who practice what they call “identity correction” by pretending to be powerful people and spokespersons for prominent organizations.” Check out the hilarious “Reggie Tribute” above from the band of modern-day Merry Pranksters, and then come and check out The Yes Men Fix the World, a more extensive exploration of the gang’s many satirical hi-jinks.


  • Contestants on the Afghan version of American Idol do more than just risk their pride in that country’s singing competition–they risk their lives. Catch up with all the drama from this audience favorite from Sundance, Afghan Star.
  • Crude, the latest from documentary world favorite Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) focuses on the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, a 16-year battle between indigenous communities in Ecuador nearly destroyed by oil drilling and Chevron, one of the world’s largest oil companies.

Check out this podcast overview of the festival

See the full line-up of films in Human Rights Watch 2009

Explore posts in the same categories: on @ the walter reade

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