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Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch

This year the annual Human Rights Watch International Film Festival presents ten feature films that inspire hope, confront oppression, seek truth and demonstrate humanity’s will to defend their own rights and those of others.

Films in Human Rights Watch

12 Angry Lebanese

Zeina  Daccache

Forty-five Lebanese inmates participate in a production of Reginald Rose’s courtroom drama 12 Angry Men, and use the play as an opportunity to examine their own lives and decisions.

Enemies of the People

Thet  Sambath

Cambodian investigative journalist Thet Sambath embarks on a decade-long journey into his own tragic past and that of his country, as he seeks out and confronts those responsible for his family’s death under the Khmer Rouge regime.


Mikael  Wiström

Unable to pay for their eight-year-old son’s education, Naty, a middle aged woman living in Peru with her husband, takes a job as a hotel maid in Spain.

First Grader

Justin  Chadwick

When the government of Kenya announces it will offer free primary education for the first time, an eighty-four-year-old man, Kimani N'gan'ga Maruge (Oliver Litondo), shows up on the doorstep of a rural school, ready for class.

Green Wave

Ali  Samadi Ahadi

The prevalence and power of social media has increasingly become a tool for political movements worldwide, not least in the case of Iran’s Green Revolution, whose 2009 “Where’s My Vote” campaign on behalf of reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi directly challenged the fait accompli of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election. Utilizing frontline YouTube footage from protest events, blog postings, Twitters, Facebook updates and dramatic re-enactments of events via animated testimonials, this clever documentary collage speaks powerfully, as per its director’s dedication, to “mankind’s yearning for freedom and dignity.”


Oliver  Masset-Depasse

Living in constant fear as an illegal immigrant in Belgium, thirty-nine-year-old Byelorussian mother Tania (Anna Coesens) reaches a crisis when she is caught by local authorities and sent to a detention centre housing illegals from all over the globe.

Life Above All

Oliver  Schmitz

Chanda, a young girl in a small, AIDS-ravaged South African township struggles to maintain the façade of a normal life amidst utter instability.


Laura  Poitras

A complex portrait of the interlinked lives of two men: Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, who was captured and detained at Guantanamo Bay; and his brother-in-law Abu Jandal, a former bin Laden bodyguard and Al Qaida recruiter, who was released by the US government after naming names in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

When We Leave

Feo  Aladag

Based on a highly publicized honour killing in Berlin in 2005, When We Leave stars Sibel Kekilli as Umay, a young Turkish Muslim woman who courageously decides to leave her abusive husband in Istanbul and join her family in Germany with her young son.

You Don't Like the Truth

Luc  Côté

A provocative and troubling document of war and justice post-9/11 about the story of Omar Khadr, the then-fifteen-year-old Canadian citizen captured in Afghanistan in 2003, and remanded to custody at the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

official description

This year the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival presents ten feature films that inspire hope, confront oppression, seek truth and demonstrate humanity’s will to defend their own rights and those of others.From Peru to Iran, Kenya to Belgium, these documentary and fiction films—many centred around the theme of family—reach beyond the headlines to reveal the core issues underlying many of the human rights abuses occurring worldwide.These powerful depictions of the struggles necessary to preserve one’s basic freedoms speaks eloquently to the universality of human rights in an evermore interdependent world, inspiring people to raise their voices in defense of those whocannot. —Alex Rogalski

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, Human Rights Watch gives voice to the oppressed and holds oppressors accountable for their crimes. Rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For thirty years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

The Human Rights Watch Canada Committee was formed in 2002 and is part of a network of committees across eighteen cities in Europe, Asia and North America. The committees include more than 550 people from a variety of backgrounds. The committees are an informed and engaged constituency that is a key part of Human Rights Watch’s defense of human rights. Committees seek to increase awareness of local and global human rights issues and enlist the public and governments to support basic freedoms for all. Committee members meet regularly to learn about human rights abuses, sponsor policy debates, and generate support for Human Rights Watch and its mission through fundraising, outreach, and advocacy.

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