The 2023 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, May 31-June 11

The 2023 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, May 31-June 11

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival Presents
Full Lineup of Cinematic Works in New York Edition,
May 31-June 11, 2023


Co-presented by Film at Lincoln Center and IFC Center

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Seven Winters in Tehran, Photo: Courtesy of Made in Germany

New York, April 27, 2023 — The Human Rights Watch Film Festival, now in its 34th year, will present a full edition of 10 groundbreaking new films nationwide in the United States, from May 31 to June 11, 2023. The New York festival will be back with a full program of in-person screenings at Film at Lincoln Center and IFC Center, with in-depth discussions with filmmakers, film participants, journalists, activists and Human Rights Watch researchers. The festival will continue to offer the opportunity to watch all 10 new films online nationwide across the United States with a full digital edition of the film festival from June 5 to June 11.

This year’s edition highlights a broad diversity of themes and topics, including the Ukraine conflict, climate gentrification and justice, women’s rights, transgender rights, freedom of the press, and access to health care in the United States.

John Biaggi, Director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, said, “We are extraordinarily proud to present our program of 10 powerful films and conversations in person at Film at Lincoln Center and IFC Center. This year’s selection covers expansive global ground, spotlighting urgent and timely human rights issues like the war in Ukraine, women’s rights and bodily autonomy, transgender rights, health and human rights, environmental gentrification, and freedom of the press.” He continues, “The festival is also committed to expanding inclusivity for audience members to enjoy the events together and is working to create features that more people can access. The majority of the festival films this year will be audio-described and play with captions, with live transcription for the conversations to follow.”

The full 2023 lineup is as follows:

Draw Me Egypt – Doaa El-Adl, A Stroke of Freedom, Nada Riyadh, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands
—The Etilaat Roz,
Abbas Rezaie, Afghanistan
Into My Name (Nel Mio Nome)
, Nicolò Bassetti, Italy
Koromousso, Big Sister
, Habibata Ouarme and Jim Donovan, Canada
Pay or Die,
Closing Night Film, Rachael Dyer and Scott Alexander Ruderman, USA
Razing Liberty Square,
Katja Esson, USA
Seven Winters in Tehran
, Opening Night Film, Steffi Niederzoll, Germany, France
Theatre of Violence
, Centerpiece Screening, Lukasz Konopa and Emil Langballe, Denmark, Germany
We Are Guardians
, Edivan Guajajara, Chelsea Greene and Rob Grobman, Brazil, USA
When Spring Came to Bucha
, Mila Teshaieva and Marcus Lenz, Germany, Ukraine

The Opening Night film, Seven Winters in Tehran, is a haunting documentary about Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 19-year-old Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing the man who tried to rape her. The film focuses on the misogyny entrenched in the justice system, where men are in charge and women’s voices are often silenced.

In the Centerpiece film, Theatre of Violence, viewers follow the modern history of Uganda with a charismatic Ugandan lawyer who is defending a former child soldier, Dominic Ongwen, as he faces trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It becomes clear that this is a trial not just of one man, a victim-turned-perpetrator, but also of a European form of justice imposed on an African country.

The festival takes a close look at Ukraine with When Spring Came to Bucha by the renowned photographer Mila Teshaieva, which powerfully profiles the citizens of Bucha, Ukraine, after the Russian army has left, as they work to rebuild their lives and community while supporting one another and finding moments of joy.

The Etilaat Roz, explores the importance of a free press as a courageous Afghan journalist records his team at Kabul’s largest newspaper while the Taliban takes over Afghanistan in 2021. Draw Me Egypt – Doaa El-Adl, A Stroke of Freedom highlights the daily struggles of one of the most prominent cartoonists of the Arab world, Doaa el-Adl, who faces censorship, intimidation and death threats as she takes on the patriarchy through her art.

Three films in this year’s festival delve into issues of health and human rights. The Closing Night Film, Pay or Die, follows three families struggling with the crushing financial reality of living with type 1 diabetes in the U.S. It looks at how pharmaceutical companies, bolstered by the government’s lack of regulation, push the price of insulin to exorbitant levels, with devastating impact on millions of Americans. Koromousso, Big Sister introduces viewers to three passionate activists and survivors of female genital mutilation as they discover a wealth of strength, joy and love—both for their own bodies and for one another—while they work to remove stigma and to challenge cultural taboos surrounding female sexuality, reconstructive surgery and, ultimately, ownership of their bodies. In Nicolò Bassetti’s tender documentary Into My Name, executive produced by Elliot Page, we meet four young transgender men in Italy as they seek to determine their own gender identities while dealing with society’s often rigid boundaries and navigating the labyrinthine medical system.

Two films focus on environmental justice and the effects of climate change. Razing Liberty Square profiles a historically Black neighborhood in Miami that was the first segregated public housing project in the South. As rising sea levels cause widespread damage to wealthy oceanfront neighborhoods in the city, Liberty Square draws the attention of developers, and a “revitalization” project begins that threatens to dismantle this thriving and close-knit community.

We Are Guardians expertly weaves together multiple threads to help paint a picture of the complexity of what is happening to the Amazon from the perspectives of Indigenous forest guardians, illegal loggers, cattle ranchers and a landowner struggling to preserve the rich ecosystem within his land from encroaching settlers.

As always, the festival strives to prioritize making space for a wide variety of identities, viewpoints and forms of expertise and experiences either silenced or marginalized in the film industry, news and media. The festival is also committed to expanding inclusivity for audience members to enjoy the events together and is working to create features that more people can access. The majority of the festival films this year will be audio-described and play with captions, with live transcription for the conversations to follow.

Audio description is a narrated description of a film’s main visual elements, such as settings and body language. This audio track is provided on headsets for audience members who request them. Captions are descriptions of all audio in the film and/or discussion—whether spoken or unspoken.

A limited number of free tickets are available both in-cinema and online for members of the public for whom the cost of a ticket would be a barrier to participation. To access free tickets, audience members can simply send an email to filmticket@hrw.org to receive the ticket codes or instructions. (First come, first served.) See the website for accessibility specifications for each film in the lineup.

To View the Films

Tickets will be available for sale beginning May 2 for members of IFC Center, Film at Lincoln Center and Human Rights Watch and May 3 to the general public. Audiences will be able to purchase in-theater tickets online or at the Film at Lincoln Center and IFC Center box offices. For ticket prices and more, please visit https://ff.hrw.org/newyork, https://www.filmlinc.org, or https://www.ifccenter.com. Virtual tickets can be purchased online for each film for $9 for the general public and $6 for members, or a digital festival pass that will provide access to all 10 films online can be purchased for $70. Further discount information is available on ff.hrw.org. The full festival will be available to rent on the festival streaming site from 9 a.m. EST June 5 until 11:59 p.m. EST June 11, 2023. Please visit ff.hrw.org for details and accessibility options for each digital presentation.

To purchase tickets and to access program updates, please visit https://ff.hrw.org/newyork.