Wednesday, June 11, 2014 , Posted by LATINO EVENTS Y TESPIS MAGAZINE at 6:03 PM

Twenty five years making possible a better world, expanding minds and human rights all over the planet is not a small feast for a festival started by a good few souls in a small NY theater. Every year the festival comes to town like a giant bell, calling out our name. Pay attention! Es contigo!. Is good they do. Then the possibilities that come with it: to become aware of, interested in, committed to making a difference. 
This year, twenty three films explore specific stories of courage confronting intolerable abuse, both person to person and state/regime to persons or collectives all over the world.
The festival is organized around five themes: Armed Conflict and the Arab Spring; Human Rights Defenders, Icons and Villains; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights; Migrants’ Rights; and Women’s Rights and Children’s Rights.
This year, director Talal Derki and producer Orwa Nyrabia—filmmakers of Return to Homs—will receive the 2014 Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking. Don't miss it. 

A fundraising Benefit Night for Human Rights Watch will launch the festival on June 12 featuring Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s Sundance award-winner E-TEAM, which follows four intrepid activists from Human Rights Watch’s Emergencies Team as they investigate and document war crimes on the front lines of Syria and Libya.

I got to see some of these films. They have it all: Domestic Violence, Abortion, War, Syria, Libya, Palestine, Nigeria, Cyprus and Nicaragua. Wrongs need to be righted, everywhere. Human Rights need to be protected or claimed. These are some of the themes you can get to stop and ponder starting on June 13 in NYC. Then, Get involved! :)

+ PRIVATE VIOLENCE (Opening Night, June 13 ) Cynthia Hill—US—2013—81m—doc
Exploring the fact that the most dangerous place for a woman is her home, the film tells the stories of Deanna Walters, a woman who seeks justice after being kidnapped and brutalized by her estranged husband, and Kit Gruelle, a domestic violence survivor who now helps women find justice for themselves.
Director Cynthia Hill and executive producer Gloria Steinem will be present on June 13 for the Opening Night screening of this HBO documentary.

+ RETURN TO HOMS. Talal Derki—Syria/Germany—2013—87m—doc
Winner of the top prize for World Documentary at Sundance, the film takes viewers to the front lines of the Syrian conflict as two young men who are determined to defend their city abandon peaceful resistance and take up arms. Recipient of the HRWFF's 2014 Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking.

+ A QUIET INQUISITION. Alessandra Zeka and Holen Sabrina Kahn—US—2014—65m—doc

In a public hospital in Nicaragua, Ob/Gyn Dr. Carla Cerrato struggles with her conscience as she is forced to navigate between a new law that bans all abortions and her training in medical protocols that enable her to save lives.

+ NELSON MANDELA: THE MYTH AND ME. Khalo Matabane—South Africa/Germany—2013—86m—doc
A top prize-winner at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, South African filmmaker Khalo Matabane uses conversations with politicians, activists, intellectuals, and artists to question the meaning of freedom and reconciliation, and challenges Mandela’s legacy in today's world.

+ EVAPORATING BORDERS. Iva Radivojevic—US/Cyprus—2014—73m—doc
An examination of how tolerance, identity and nationalism collide over migration issues on the island of Cyprus, one of the easiest entry points to Europe.


+ WATCHERS OF THE SKY. Edet Belzberg—US—2014—114m—doc
Inspired by Samantha Power's Pulitzer Prize-winning book “A Problem From Hell,” the film interweaves the stories of four extraordinary humanitarians whose lives and work embody the vision of Rafael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer who created international law on stopping genocide and holding leaders accountable.

A look at the perilous evolution of the pro-democracy movement in Nigeria, focusing on Hafsat Abiola, an activist who returns to her embattled home to fight for democracy and women’s rights.

Scheherazade’s Diary (Closing Night, June 22)
A tragicomic documentary that follows women inmates through a 10-month drama therapy/theater project set up by director Zeina Daccache at the Baabda Prison in Lebanon. Through “Scheherazade in Baabda,” these “murderers of husbands, adulterers and drug felons” reveal their stories—tales of domestic violence, traumatic childhoods, failed marriages, and forlorn romances.
The Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center and The IFC Center will host the event. For more films and info, visit > HRWFF.

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