Thursday, 28 February 2013

Testimony and development: think globally, act locally, think locally, act globally

(c) IRC maternal health project

I recently covered Untold Stories, a major exhibition of photographs of global urban refugees and a showcase of their testimonies, produced by the International Rescue Committee and featuring images taken by photographer Andrew O’Connell. Since the exhibition closed I’ve been thinking about the placing of these images, in the sleek, double-plus height, busy spaces of King’s Cross International Station. It’s either a striking juxtaposition, stopping Paris- and Brussels-bound travellers and their consciences dead in between eating a cake from Konditor and Cook, having a salmon platter at Le Pain Quotidien and buying overpriced disposable fountain pens from Paperchase. Or it’s just more visual wallpaper, another image from the global ad era, something for the eye to skim over, barely taking in the words or registering the general purpose – tearjerking international pain campaign – before getting on a train bound for somewhere more pleasant. 

As a second generation British Indian, I’ve always baulked at coverage that makes a show of the suffering of global others. Stricken-eyed orphans, hungry looking yet still undeniably cute; survivors and victims gazing out balefully, beseechingly, next to a large-fonted list of bad things that will happen to them if you don’t sponsor them for three pounds a month; a child just about to drink from a plastic tub of brownish water; a dazed toddler gazing up from a hospital bed it wouldn’t need to be in if only the correct vaccines and immunisations had reached it in time. The testimonies are true, as is the scale of each crisis and each issue, but coverage like this reduces each featured person only to the story of their suffering. The individual, although they are made an example of, becomes generic in the telling. The adverts and coverage do not tell us about their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, their family, their friends, their locality, their ambitions. Instead, the individuals are broken down into a demeaning, generalized narrative. We know nothing of them but their pain and are shown nothing of their own drive, their own strength and resistance. Instead we are invited to feel like the heroic saviours of the powerless:

The farmer who can’t grow and sell enough crops for her family.

The baby who’ll die by the age of 3 if he doesn’t get the right treatment.

The girl, first name only, trafficked, raped, bought, sold, impregnated, beaten, abused.

The boy stitching plimsolls by the side of the road, forced to sleep on the street.

The girl denied education, doomed to be taken and used for sexual and other manual labour.

The family whose nearest hospital is an eight mile walk away.

I sit on the Tube and cringe: is this what people in this country think of us? And by us I mean all the non-whites, the former colonised, the far-away, the different-from-them. It’s humiliating to see one’s own (historic) country and those of many others represented as backward, violently misogynistic, agonisingly poor, superstitious, class-ridden, corrupt, intractably problematic, unable to help itself. It’s embarrassing to think about the way other cultures are so often misrepresented, in Western art, culture and media, as depraved, eroticised, exoticised, criminal, subjugated, chaotic, oppressed, self-sabotaging, primitive, violent and more. And it’s easy, being bi- or multicultural, living in a city as visually diverse and mixed as London (even if, if you look at who really holds power in all sectors, the image is strongly un-diverse in terms of sex, race and class), to forget how little people know of the many different societies beyond their own national borders, how few people get under the skin of other countries through equal friendship with others, how few people speak or read other languages. The solicitations, which are meant well, are targeted at people who often know little about other countries or cultures except what they have seen on the news, what they are fed in entertainment-industry films and novels or simply what they have heard in the air – a mixture of myths, fantasies, suppositions and stereotypes which are insulting at worst and limiting at best. The adverts and campaigns often replace people’s ignorance with extreme, galling patronage. We are invited to feel for survivors and victims but not feel outraged, as we should, about the deliberate actions of the perpetrators or the extreme injustice and exploitation which underlie inequality. The help the adverts elicit is accompanied by a sense of personal smugness and cultural superiority. Yet the only way you can understand a culture and drop your own sense of superiority is to participate in it fully and as an equal, not a patron, exploiter, client or dominator.

It’s also easy to point to finger at other nations’ problems without recognizing that many of those same problems are strongly prevalent within the UK too and that the prejudices and inequalities which keep them in place are common across seemingly different cultures. Gender prejudice, gender violence, racial prejudice, racial violence, class prejudice, class violence; these are present to a greater or lesser degree in all cultures regardless of the predominant colour, religion or language of the majority of the people. The terrible consequences, in terms of opportunity, treatment and advantage, as a result of the gap between richer and poorer; the scale of sexual violence including endemic harassment, sexual exploitation and the consequent ignoring or denying of victims and excusal of perpetrators; endemic levels of women killed by current or ex partners; trafficking; labour exploitation, low pay, unstable employment and inequality; problems of hunger; problems of housing; problems of literacy. These are all issues here in the UK, as elsewhere.

And so, in the morass of pain, suffering and need, we return to the power of individual testimonies, specific case studies and concrete examples as a way of making issues which are so widescale as to be overwhelming feel real at last. Humanity needs to put names and faces to social problems; we need to attach a story to an issue; we need to be convinced emotionally and not just factually. And so there’s testimony after testimony, home-made video after witness photograph exhibition, statements, confessionals, documentaries, archives. It’s only through putting a human face onto inhumane circumstances and treatment, adding flesh and blood to advocacy and arguments, that grassroots change really happens.

There are many obstacles. In the case of sexual violence in particular there is widespread and tragic denial of the existence, reality and scale of the issue; the disbelieving, denial, punishment and ostracisation of victims; leniency, excusal and condoning of perpetrators; and a denial about the way entire cultures collude across the board in the undermining and sexual objectification of women and girls, from our extreme under-representation as speakers, leaders and experts in all areas of powerful public life to our over-representation as silent objects used to sell consumer goods from yoghurts to shampoos and the way our bodies are used, bought, sold and bartered as sources of sexual, domestic and other labour for others’ benefit; and so on and so forth, as I’ve written in a million articles a million times. Even when survivors of sexual violence are believed, people have a hard time facing the reality of the scale of the problem, the truth of the situation and its systematic, entrenched, values-based origins. They prefer to recast sexual violence as either a tragic anomaly; an inevitable consequence of war which will never change; or a private, ambiguous, personal, shadowy, domestic matter whose mysterious truth none can fathom. At the heart of all this is an absolute inability to face the reality of what perpetrators choose to do, how many of them there are, how common it is, and what that says about how much and how violently women are hated. For more on the most extreme and distressing examples of this, with a trigger warning, look at Women Under Siege.

Sometimes the resistance comes down to cultural prejudice – a feeling of not understanding and not wanting to interfere or get involved with a society which is seen wrongly as ‘other’, subject to its own laws and logic, somehow different and therefore inscrutable. And equally there is a laudable desire not to patronise. Over the last few years, as I’ve been working and writing a lot on the Middle Eastern revolutions, meeting countless female activists who have worked for changed for years, who lead demonstrations and organisations. They bemoan the western media’s obsession with the oppression of Arab women, veiling and not veiling, sexual assault and sexual harassment, as though these latter two issues are not totally endemic in the UK as well as in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Northern America, India and wherever else you look. The problems of the world seem to hide in open view, supported by our prejudices, our willful blindness, our excusal of perpetrators and our deep denial.

Sometimes resistance to global appeals comes down to simple apathy, selfishness, insularity or outright pessimism. People do not use their power for change, because they are convinced of their powerlessness. They think an enterprise is doomed to fail before it has begun, and so they doom it to fail with their own unwillingness, tepid support and lacklustre participation.

Yet this pessimism is misplaced. The problems of the world have not arisen by magic or by chance and are not kept in place by magic or chance. They are specific problems which can be solved in specific ways. Those who benefit from inequality, injustice and exploitation rely on the apathy of bystanders. To laugh cynically at the large scale of the problems identified for solution is to behave as though the world can only change for the worse, not the better. During the course of the year, as part of my International Reporting Project fellowship, run by Johns Hopkins University and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, I will be focusing on issues in support of the MillenniumDevelopment Goals for 2015. These are:

  • To end poverty and hunger
  • Universal education
  • Gender equality
  • Child Health
  • Maternal health
  • Combating HIV/AIDS
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Global partnership
Do I believe that it’s possible to save the world? Yes. If it can transform negatively it can transform positively. This requires believing survivors, fighting perpetrators, challenging preconceptions, changing society, educating the very young, supporting the weak, breaking the dominators, investing money, creating lasting infrastructures and forming organisations which are structurally and ideologically different from those created by exploiters and power-holders. To say the world cannot be saved is to give the bad guys a free pass to do exactly what they want, to make a mockery of others’ constructive efforts and to deny one’s own power to influence events. I believe that something good is better than nothing good, that speaking up is better than staying silent to protect perpetrators and that a tidal wave of change starts with the smallest ripple.

There are millions of people in the world – usually, those who have relatively little themselves – who are working and have been working tirelessly for years to transform the lives of people in their own communities. Although they are assisted by the same organisation, they do not get exhibitions in King’s Cross, major funding for their beautiful photographs or international coverage which boosts their career, enables lots more exciting international travel and promises a strong culturally legacy once their working days are done. They are not hailed as intrepid, globe-trotting heroes bearing witness, constructing powerful testimony, standing up for human rights. They have no names, or rather no cultural Name. But here they are:

  • The village women in the South Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo forming groups called village savings and loan associations (VSLAs). The women members put their small household earnings toward the group’s broader goals. When there’s enough cash in the box, a member can take out a loan to start her own business — like a tailoring shop, the purchase of a small plot of land to farm and raise animals. When the business makes money she begins to repay that loan back into the cash box to fund another woman’s ideas.
  • The 30 new health facilities and 2,500 newly trained community health workers supported by the IRC in South Sudan, where the country’s decades long civil war has left the region without a functioning healthcare system and few trained medical personnel. Currently, more than 2,000 out of every 100,000 pregnant women in the new nation die during childbirth.
  • The necessity of bringing healthcare closer to remote communities by enabling trained community health workers to travel with families as they migrate. For example in Turkana, Kenya, is one of the world’s poorest regions, frequent droughts have left inhabitants dependent on food aid. Malnutrition rates are estimated to be around 22 per cent, leaving children too weak to fight off illness. Consequently, many children die from preventable or treatable illnesses such as fever, malaria and diarrhoea. With about 80%of people being nomadic, many families find accessing healthcare difficult due to their mobile lifestyle. These problems are compounded by a severe shortage of facilities and qualified health professionals. 
  • The strengthening of strained healthcare facilities in Syria’s neighbouring countries, like the 2 new health centres in the cities of Ramtha and Mafraq in Jordan, to help the million-plus people fleeing the violence in Syria. As IRC emergency response coordinator Tom McNelly explains, “These people crossed the border with nothing but their clothes. They have no money to pay for treatment or medicine - and we supply both, at no cost to them.”

Related articles:

Statistics and specific project details © IRC with thanks. To donate to these projects via the IRC please click here

Bidisha is a 2013 Fellow for the International Reporting Project. She is reporting on issues of global health and development. 

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Women of Iraq: power and resistance

I am writing this after having sat in disbelief through Newsnight's Iraq: 10 Years On special tonight, in which they had 11 male speakers on stage, and just one woman. The speakers were not at all all high-level Iraq specialists and included newspaper journalists, the novelist Michael Morpurgo, politicians, writers and other politically-aware commentators with a general interest in the issue. Women experts and speakers from the audience were similarly strongly outnumbered. A very impressive woman who was a gender expert was asked about women in Iraq and gave an extremely important, troubling account of increases in trafficking, prostitution, forced marriage, rape, 'domestic' violence and the feminisation of poverty. This was simply passed over and not picked up again, as though what happens to women, the largest and most hardest-hit group in the country and in the world, is some kind of fringe, minority or side issue. Another comment the same woman made, disputing a panellist's claim that Saddam Hussein's rule had somehow smoothed over sectarian conflicts, was dismissed by Jon Simpson as "not very valuable." Thank you, white English man, for openly belittling and undermining an Iraqi woman who knows what she's talking about and thank you British Newsnight producers for making it clear that what happens to Iraqi women is not worth discussing after the issues have been brought up. And thank you for making it so clear by having 11 men and 1 woman onstage that you think women are not qualified in any way to talk about Iraq.

Newsnight is guilty of extreme discrimination against women and the argument that women speakers about Iraq, about war, about the Middle-Far East, about UK foreign policy, about public anti-war protests and about the war on terror are simply not available is totally specious. Next week the international culture and advocacy organisation The Abundance Lab and IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, and are bringing together an all-women panel of inspiring speakers to share their tales of Iraqi women’s resistance, re-invention and strength for a unique event. Iraqi Women, Power and Resistance will mark International Women's Day and the 10th Anniversary of the 2003 Iraq War.

On Thursday 7th March 2013 from 6.00pm to 8.00pm at Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, you will hear first hand from women who fought for survival, freedom or challenged the status quo through activism, music and photography including:
  • Houzan Mahmood, international campaigner for the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq and contributor to The Independent, The Guardian and The New Statesman.
  • Photographer Eugenie Dolberg who used photography with Iraqi women to help to tell their stories of bravery and resistance (as part of Open Shutters Iraq.
  • Iraqi pianist and activist, Zuhal Sultan, who founded the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq at the age of 17, will share how she used the power of music to bring the next generation together and overcome the horrors of the conflict.
If you can get there a bit earlier, from 5pm you will also get a unique advance preview of Iraq: Photographs by Sean Smith, the new display by The Guardian newspaper’s award-winning war photographer. It contains images on display for the first time alongside Smith’s award winning photography from before, during and after the Iraq War 2003.

  • Thursday 7th March 2013 from 6.00pm to 8.00pm; Sean Smith photo preview from 5pm
  • IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, The Quays, Manchester. For directions, click here
  • Free event, but booking is essential via or 0161 836 4000

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Voices of the people: political revolutions, cultural revolutions and social revolutions in the Middle East

Related articles:

Recently The British Council launched its Voices of the People report, for which I was honoured to be asked to write the foreword. The report presents research carried out by the Post War Reconstruction and Development Unit at the University of York over the last two years and was based on over 100 interviews with artists, activists, civil society members and other culturally, socially and politically active participants in Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. However, its conclusions have important implications for many more countries across the Middle East North Africa region, especially in those states undergoing popular challenges to established governments, customs and regimes. Covering theatre, music, art (including street art), citizen journalism and much more, Voices of the People looks at the potential for new forms of creative and political expression to challenge, interpret and create a different future in which citizens are “emboldened and have begun to put pressure on their new governments for institutional reform and greater freedom to tackle day to day realities.” However, many questions remain, including
  • Is cultural change to happen through existing cultural institutions or through informal or grassroots means?
  • What role does civil society play in the cultural future, having played such a strong part in the revolutionary present?
  • There's a difference between catching a moment and building a future. How can the energy of cultural revolution be maintained if there is no funding in the present, emergent artists are not supported in viable and stable careers and much younger people do not have faith in educational institutions to adequately teach or support their ambitions in the arts?
  • How can cultural life be nurtured in the long term, once the fashionability (to the West) of the Middle Eastern revolutions has waned?
  • Who is being overlooked in the rush to celebrate the work produced in the immediate (chronological, metaphorical and topographic) surroundings of the revolutions?
  • Is the artistic work being produced now only an overflow of energy from the real action – political revolution, rebellion against existing oppression, the finding and fielding of new leaders, the formulation of new constitutions following different principles – and will it burn itself out?
  • And...what business is it of the west to worry on behalf of revolutionary Middle Eastern states and to think it has anything to offer by way of ‘helping out’?
With these issues and reservations in mind, this is the talk I gave at a London launch event for Voices of the People. It was a private, working event for a smallish international group of arts producers, editors and commissioners, institution directors, artists, funders and academics across the regions and disciplines being discussed.  Here’s the talk, splintered out of its bullet points:
I’m here to strike a note, not of caution, but of pragmatism and strategy. 
Events in the Middle East are very fashionable at the moment. They allow us to use grandiose terms like rebellion, transformation, radical change. They are spectacular both to witness and participate in, because of a rapid combination of factors which all point to the future: the energy of youthful protestors; the seeming speed with which unsatisfactory structures, leaders or systems have been brought down; the inspired used of technology to organise, communicate, record and archive events; the faith which ideals – which are easy to be cynical about – guide those agitating for the future: ideals like equality, pluralism, stability, openness. These ideals – and their opposites, as we have seen – are not mere concepts but are embodied in laws, policies, institutions and ideologies which affect everything and everyone, from economics, employment, education and infrastructure to attitudes to violence, leadership and fairness. There is also the variety of activity we are witnessing. It’s not just about occupying, demonstrating, shouting out, it’s also about expression and about creative freedom - which are inextricably linked with political freedom, which must guarantee social freedom in its turn.
Revolutions, like the people who create them, are multi-disciplinary. Artists are articulating their concerns, which may not always be overtly political but do always come from their specific cultural and social context and are therefore political by default. The making and displaying or releasing of work is itself a political statement against marginalisation, invisibility, silencing and dismissal. Art, in whatever form, is a space of consideration, reflection, analysis, the integration of ideas and speculation about possibility. But artists must be given the freedom to speak on their own terms, in their own language, with their own identity and manner. Whether these creators work in solitude as novelists and painters or  collaboratively as theatre or film-makers, whether they confront their neighbourhoods as graffiti artists or street performers or seek funding for large scale projects requiring greater technology and support, They are producing new work in which they have much to say and we have much to learn.  
How can we do this?  By making connections. By that I mean certain specific things: we offer expertise and contacts with experienced cultural bodies and institutions; we organise and host events which span countries and include those of both sexes, multiple cultures and all backgrounds; we facilitate collaboration between those who create and those who enable, organise, publicise, curate and commission. Yet this must be done freely, fairly and equally, as part of a two-way exchange. 
Acting with interest and a desire to learn more – rather than an attitude of extending patronage or sating our own curiosity – we can develop others’ careers in tangible ways: festivals, events, exhibitions, commissions, anthologies, which are by everyone, for everyone, and not simply for insiders or decision-makers or as a means of allowing international voyeurs and bystanders to feel the excitement of involvement in strangers’ revolutions. 
But we must act fast. The future lies in a progressive attitude,  not a reactionary one. The revolutions are not over and we don’t know how they’ll end. Potential is found by opening up to the new possibilities of the future, not the conservation of repressive ideas taking the ancient or mythic past as their seal of quality.  
The attainment of political, social and cultural ideals comes about by the offering of resources, organisational skills, opportunities, commissions and the physical places in which to showcase the creativity I am talking about. The question is now what we build together, and how, according to what is told to us by revolutionaries themselves, and not what we think is best. If we humbly get involved in these practical endeavours, we can say we have participated in creating a new world that we all want to see.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Why can't women make feature films?

From the Underwire film festival people, off the back of:

At the Underwire Festival in November, the London Short Film Festival posed the question Why Can’t Women Make Feature Films? A great debate erupted at the Ritzy, with Hannah McGill, Lizzie Franke and Carol Morley fearlessly taking on this controversial question.Well, it’s not over yet. Kate Taylor is taking the helm of this difficult discussion topic with two filmmakers, a critic and a programmer to look at the gender gap.

We’ll be asking everyone to get myth-busting on common misconceptions about female filmmakers and the struggles they face in making the transition from short films to features. Noé Mendelle (Scottish Documentary Institute), Hannah McGill (Sight & Sound, The List) and Tom Kalin (Columbia University) will take a series of familiar complaints, rip them to shreds, and look forward to a time when the question ‘How does it feel to be a woman filmmaker?’ is never asked again.

Kate Taylor has already kicked off the debate with a blog over on the GSFF site, laying out her Golden Rules for the session: Damn the Statistics; Let the conversation be diverse; and the 9-point 'myth list'.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The road to revolution, from street protestors to the Muslim Brotherhood, fiction to reportage, nonviolence to violence: Ahdaf Soueif on the Egyptian activism of the past, present and future

This is the transcript of a  talk given in the last week by the Booker-nominated novelist, journalist and Palestine Festival of Literature founder, Ahdaf Soueif, at a non-UK university. Questions were posed by the chair, a prominent academic at the university’s Asian and Middle Eastern Studies institute, and by an audience of academics and specialists affiliated with the institute. And they were all fantastic amazing genius women hurrah!

Chair: Congratulations on the success of Palfest, a festival that’s produced in the teeth of a lot of difficulties and struggles and so is an act of protest itself, not just an excuse for a get-together.

AS: Thank you, I’m delighted to be here.

Soueif is invited to read from her latest book, the non-fiction Cairo: My City, Our Revolution which is an account of the 18 day anti-Mubarek demonstrations and protests in Tahrir Square and also a remembrance of the city she has known all her life.

Let’s go back to the start of the protests. How did they arise?

AS: Well, it was interesting to see the protestors rushing in as the central security vehicles were racing to get out. But I think, funnily enough, that when they tried cutting off people’s communications – there was no telephone network, no Internet service – it had the effect of motivating and propelling people. All the people came out to talk to each other because there was no other way of knowing what was going on. So every person was in one place, fully concentrated. We came together as individuals in a great co-operative project and the goal was to reclaim our country.

Did you see something like this coming?

AS: Yes. We felt it simmering. We were always talking about what was going to happen, although we felt that the era of big revolution had passed. So what form would it take? Would there be mobs? Would the army be staging a coupe to purge and self-renew? So we knew something would happen, but we did know what it was going to look like. Since about the year 2000 we felt the country was being run down, deliberately – but we couldn’t quite believe it. What the regime did was rob people of a sense of agency. There was a feeling hat you couldn’t do anything, achieve things, you couldn’t influence anything. And then in 200 after the 2nd Palestinian Intifida, there were demonstrations that didn’t really die down. There was a proliferation of small civil-society associations, an informal network of activist organisations, human rights organisations. Then in 2003 there were the big marches against the Iraq war, which happened all over the world. And then in 2004 there were protests against the upcoming Egyptian elections, and through into 2005 we saw the Kifaya [Enough] movement, a street movement which started with people standing on the steps of the High Court with stickers over their mouths. By 2010 there wasn’t a single sector of society that wasn’t in protest. Even the tax collectors. And I said all of this, actually, in an interview in Jaipur. I said the country’s boiling.

With events happening so swiftly, do you feel tempted to update the book?

AS: Well, the book goes up to October 2011 and my American publishers wanted me to update it up to October 2012. It’s interesting to do because the tonality of the experience is changing so much; I write a weekly column in which I try and least to represent the revolution to itself, to encourage, to show certain things up. But it’s been hard to write [the book update] simply because on the ground there’s so much to be done and a huge part of me wants to be out on the street and part of the action. You tell yourself that producing something like a book is part of the revolutionary effort, but in the moment that you’re doing it, it feel unsatisfactory. You could be marching, organising, buying dressings for field hospitals, being with the young people at their meetings and demonstration.

What has been the response from those in power – the ones the protestors are demonstrating against?

AS [Smiles]: Well...nobody in the business of bureaucracy or repression has time for this [literary] kind of thing. They’re busy killing people, or passing terrible laws. They’re operating at the macro level. I’m currently rendering the book into Arabic; those who’ve read it so far are those who read it in English. But I heard something wonderful from one young revolutionary: she said that when she felt despair, she went back to this book, remembered and regained are hope. People are emotional when they read it – they remember experiences they went through, they read it and think, “Oh, I was in the next street along, just the next street.” I also wrote about the experiencing of living the revolution in my home town. It was amazing and it felt like, for all of us who were from Cairo, the city was working with us. You could see thing happening, see the young people fighting, visors, gas – and yet behind them would be the Egyptian Museum which contains all the Pharaonic artefacts...and the army used it to drag people in and beat and torture them. So, everything that happened added a layer of symbolism as it was the city of my childhood and the places meant something for me, like there was a big building by the side of Tahrir Square and my aunt used to work there. I watched the graffiti going up in Tahrir, knowing there were snipers at the windows, and yet this was the city of my childhood.

What about the young revolutionaries?

AS: Their parents used to go on about the [politically active] Cairo of the 60s and 70s but they [themselves] had never felt any revolutionary energy. Now the city has come alive for them. The newspaper I write in is staid but extremely correct-thinking and is with the revolution. I wrote a piece about the young cadets of the military academy because a protest had gone on there. It was at the end of the weekend and all the young cadets were coming back and had to go past the protest. It was so strange because there were young people on one side, young people on the other side, all Egyptians, both sides probably loving their country equally, bandanas and scarves versus army caps. What I do is very very little compared to what they do.

What is happening in terms of  the response to protests now?

We’ve seen an escalation in the amount of personal violence that the army is using against the protestors. They had been reluctant at first. I got a phone call from SCAF, which was the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces, after a meeting which had been basically us on one side, SCAF on the other. It was on my landline, which almost never rings. “The second so-and-so general of the such-and-such department of so-and-so, such-and-such division is on the line and wishes to speak with you.” And he kept me on the phone for an hour and a half, going on and on, quite rambling, about how the army had Egypt’s nest interests at heart. He kept quoting my articles back at me. I was taking notes, desperate to record it, but I didn’t have the equipment to do that. Eventually he got off the phone and I realised that he had made three threats. First, my nephew was in jail because they’d accusing him of sabotaging an army vehicle and stealing weapons out of it and all sort of stuff. And the general said, “I’m sure you’re very much affected by it.” And I said, “Well, the case is going to trial.” And he said, “Because of course it could still go either way.” Then the second thing he said was, “You wrote an article? Anybody can write an article. Somebody could write an article saying this woman basically lives in London, every year she goes to Israel – when I don’t go to Israel, I go to Palestine – why is she taking an interest in Egypt?” And the third and weirdest thing he said was, “You know Dostoevsky? He said that in the absence of God anything is permitted, even murder.” It was from The Brothers Karamazov. I said, “Yes? So what? Which character said it? A good character or an evil character?” And he got really, really angry: “I tell you Dostoevsky said it!” I realised later it was some kind of threat.

Where do you stand now on the non-violent intentions of the revolution?

AS: We were very proud of the non-violent nature of the revolution. Those eighteen days showed us the best we could be. They were so positive and an antidote to how we’d been made to feel bad about ourselves. We were altruistic, organised, creative, co-operative. We were like a nation on its best behaviour. But Mubarek and then the army were not as well-behaved. So it has not remained bloodless. People were killed from day one and quite soon within the eighteen days young men set fire to the police station. But even when we had to fight with the security services, the young people would take his [the security service guy’s] weapons and turn him loose. But ultimately we have to have a revolution and we have to have change. The last two years have show the revolution’s attempt to remain nonviolent and retain faith in the institutions of state. But the government’s pushing things away from nonviolence.

There’s now emerged a new ‘Black Bloc’ of young people. They put on black clothes, cover their faces and say they’re the warriors of the revolution, who’re going to be on the frontline, that this is the fighting battalion. They’re sick of being beaten by Mubarek, the army, the Muslim Brotherhood. They say that this is not a turn-the-other-cheek revolution. So now, we want a revolution – but it may be bloody.

What do you think about the current crop of books about the Middle East revolutions?

AS: Many of the current books about the Arab Spring are by people from the outside, so perhaps you could say they’re more analytical. But they’re not from within. If you want a really current flavour then look at the blogs, the tweets, the essays by artists – they carry the real blood of the story now. I do feel that fiction can be important in this, in drawing in hearts  and minds. Fiction lasts. You create characters who people fall in love with and they carry you along with them. I did a signing at a bookshop in Cairo and a young woman showed me her copy of my novel The Map of Love, it was a pirated edition, full of notes, writing, drawings. She told me that at one of the sit-ins, they were passing it amongst themselves, reading out little bits and talking about it. It was humbling and moving. When it comes to my own fiction, if everything could just freeze for eight months, I could write my novel! And then everything could start up again. I do see myself wanting to engage fictionally with what is happening but for any process to begin to happen I’d need to be locked away again, and I couldn’t bear to be locked away now.

Are you ever in doubt?

AS: In May 2012, for the first time, the revolutionaries carried weapons. That was a new trend, although the overarching wish was for things to remain non violent. My nephew spoke out in protest and he was attacked  for it, he was defensive and a debate was had. And sometimes you have sit-ins which last and last and get frayed: people leave, authorities try to infiltrate street vendors come in – the ethos is that protestors and revolutionaries are as friends and as one with the poorer people. But vendors are easy to infiltrate by the authorities. So there have been fights, things have been stolen. I found out that one tent was actually being run as a prison by revolutionaries, in which they were keeping two people who’d stolen from them. We speak about it amongst ourselves, instead of giving ammunition to the enemy. That’s the decision of the people on the ground and I stand by them because they’re the ones at risk of being shot, beaten, taken to jail. So you can talk, you can be critical, and you must decision to what degree and what moral view you take of the situation.

What is happening right now?

AS: Now there’s a great deal of turbulence. We are in a continuing revolution. It would have been amazing if the 18 days had worked and at the end of the military rule we got a government of the revolution. There’s political Islam and there are the secular state advocates, and a lot of us were not unwilling to go with political Islam on the basis that they are a part of Egyptian society and if the people elected them democratically we would work together. So it was a choice between the military and Morsi. His promise was that he’s be a president of all Egyptians, not just the Brotherhood. But the Brotherhood don’t want to work with us. We’ve seen the killings and the beatings. They don’t believe in the goals of the revolution – bread, freedom, social justice. They don’t share the principles of the revolution. Their economic policy is even more to the right of Mubarek: the IMF, the Ford Bank, privileging the rich. They’re even talking about reconciliation with the heads of the old regime in return for the return of stolen money – at the same rates as when it was stolen! – and they’re saying it’s “because we need stability.” We thought our problems would be with the social agenda, not economics and development. 

We want pretty obvious and simple things: an education system, transport to be out of the hands of private companies. Universal healthcare, insurance, sustainable development. Meanwhile, they’re distracting everyone by pushing through a divisive social agenda. There is no recognition that they rose on the back of a policy or a manifesto, or that they came to power on the back of a revolution. Since Sadat first started using the Islamist ticket to beat down the Left, we’re seeing the Islamist groups come to power democratically through the ballot box. So let’s see. The country has specific and very clear aims. Let’s see if they deliver. If they don’t, the country will protest, through the ballot box or through uprising. It’ll be the country saying, We won’t take it any more. Not just artists and intellectuals talking about whether or not to wear a headscarf or freedom of speech, the whole country will reject them. So we will have gone through this phase. How bloody will it be? What will happen in the next four to six months? A lot will be tested. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

17th Human Rights Watch Film Festival

...endorsed with speechless admiration by me...

The line-up of films and events at the 17th Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London has now been announced. Running in the capital from March 13th to 22nd, 2013, it includes 14 documentaries and 5 dramas and crosses the globe from Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordon, Morocco, North Korea and Norway to Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Tanzania. Many of the films will be followed by question and answer sessions and discussions with filmmakers, experts and film subjects.

The programme this year is organised around four themes: traditional values and human rights (incorporating women’s rights, disability rights, and LGBT rights); crises and migration; a focus on Asia/South Asia; and occupation and the rule of law.

John Biaggi, film festival director at Human Rights Watch, says
In addition to our opening film, Kim Longinotto’s extraordinary Salma, and the closing film, Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wajdja, another five festival titles reveal not only the tension between traditional values and women’s rights but also the resilience shown by the women featured—which is inspirational. ...From start to finish, the directors pull no punches. We are delighted to welcome Raoul Peck back to the festival this year with his provocative and powerful indictment of the international community’s post-disaster efforts in Haiti.
Say the organisers:

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organisations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. We work tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and fight to bring greater justice and security to people around the world. Through our Human Rights Watch Film Festival we bear witness to human rights violations and create a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference.

The festival will begin on 13th March at the Curzon Mayfair with a fundraising benefit and reception for Human Rights Watch, with Kim Nguyen’s drama War Witch, an Academy Award® nominee for best foreign language film. The film was shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a cast of non-professional actors, including Rachel Mwanza, the lead, who won a Silver Bear for best actress at the Berlin Film Festival 2012. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker Kim Nguyen and David Mepham, the Human Rights Watch UK director.

On 22 March, the Curzon Soho will host the opening night film and reception, with an exclusive preview of Kim Longinotto’s Salma, a story of courage and resilience. As a young Muslim girl in India, Salma was forced into seclusion once she reached puberty. Forbidden to study and pushed into a marriage, she covertly composed poems on scraps of paper. Against the odds, she became a famous poet, the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village. Now Salma has hopes for a different life for the next generation of girls, but as she sees, familial ties run deep and change is slow. Longinotto, a British filmmaker, will take part in a discussion after the screening.

A still from Salma

The closing night film and reception will take place on 22 March at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, with Haifaa Al Mansour’s drama Wadjda, the first full-length feature film shot entirely inside Saudi Arabia. It tells the story of a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of the capital, Riyadh. After a fight with her friend, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately but Wadjda's mother won't allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. So Wadjda decides to try to raise the money herself. A cash prize for a Quran recitation competition at her school leads Wadjda to become a model pious girl as she devotes herself to memorising Quranic verses. She is determined to fight for her dreams... with or without society’s approval.

Traditional Values: Women’s Rights

Traditional values are often deployed as an excuse to stand in the way of human rights. Five films in this year’s festival consider the impact on women.

The UK premiere of Karima Zoubir’s Camera/Woman introduces viewers to Khadija, a Moroccan divorcee who works as a camerawoman at wedding parties in Casablanca. Her mother and brother strongly disagree with her choice of occupation, feel ashamed that Khadija is divorced, and want her to remarry. But Khadija is the breadwinner in the family and won’t bow to their demands. Together with her best friend, also a divorcee, Khadija talks candidly about the issues they face and the competing forces at play in the lives of women in Morocco and beyond. A question and answer session with Zoubir will follow.

The Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s Going Up the Stairs is both a portrait of an artist and a glimpse inside a traditional Iranian marriage. Akram married at nine and was so fearful of displeasing her husband that she left school before she learned to read. Now a grandmother living with her husband, Heidar, in Tehran, she has found her calling: painting. Akram’s children organise an exhibition in Paris for her and she hopes Heidar will give her permission to go. Like many couples married for decades, they bicker back and forth and Akram’s sarcastic sense of humour shines through.

Tall as the Baobab Tree depicts a family struggling to find its footing on the edge of a modern world fraught with tensions between tradition and modernity. Coumba and her little sister Debo are the first to leave their family’s remote African village in Senegal, where meals are prepared over open fires and water is drawn from wells, to attend school in the bustling city. But when an accident suddenly threatens their family’s survival, their father decides to sell 11-year-old Debo into an arranged marriage. Torn between loyalty to her elders and her dreams for the future, Coumba hatches a secret plan to rescue her younger sister from a future she did not choose. A question and answer session with the filmmaker, Jeremy Teicher, will follow.

Still from Tall as the Boabab Tree

What does it mean to be a woman in a world ruled by religion and violence? The Patience Stone focuses on the plight of women ruled by archaic laws and traditions. In a war-torn neighbourhood in Afghanistan, a woman cares for her husband, who has been in a coma for over two weeks. Sitting in silence hour after hour, the woman begins a one-sided conversation with her comatose husband. For the first time, she feels he is listening to her. And she begins to reflect on her life. Slowly but surely, the reflections become confessions. And we learn to what lengths a woman will go to avoid abandonment and rejection. Based on his 2008 novel of the same name, Atiq Rahimi’s drama The Patience Stone reveals the complicated inner workings of one woman’s mind and her secret life in a world circumscribed by patriarchy and custom.

Rafea, a Bedouin woman who lives with her daughters in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border is the subject of Rafea: Solar Mama. Selected for a programme called the Barefoot College in India, she joins 30 illiterate women from various countries to train to become solar engineers over the course of six months. Despite a tumultuous struggle with her husband, Rafea remains determined. Will she be able to empower the other women in the village to join her in the struggle to rewire the traditions of the Bedouin community that stand in their way? A question and answer session with the filmmakers, Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief, will follow.

A still from Rafea: Solar Mama

Traditional Values: Disability Rights

Filmed over six years, In the Shadow of the Sun tells the story of two men with albinism in Tanzania pursuing their dreams in the face of virulent prejudice. In the midst of an escalation in brutal murders of people with albinism, Josephat Torner decides to confront the communities where the killings are taking place, saying, “I need to change society so it can accept me”. He visits Ukerewe Island, where he finds 62 people with albinism, including 15-year-old Vedastus, who has been bullied out of school and rejected by his community. Dedicating his life to campaigning against this sort of discrimination, Torner becomes a mentor to Vedastus. Through his intimate portrait of Vedastus and Torner, the filmmaker, Harry Freeland, tells a story of deep-rooted superstition, heartfelt suffering, and incredible strength. A question and answer session with Freeland and Torner (tbc) will follow.

Traditional Values: LGBT Rights

Srdjan Dragojevic’s The Parade takes a comedic look at Serbia through the lens of one group’s fight to hold a Gay Pride parade in Belgrade. Viewers meet Pearl and Mickey, a couple about to be married, and Mirko and Radmilo, a couple involved in the gay pride parade. Mirko is Pearl’s wedding planner and Radmilo turns out to be the veterinarian who saves Mickey’s dog’s life. After a lover’s quarrel, Mickey—who is less than accepting of Gay Pride—makes a deal to protect the participants in the parade to win Pearl back. Mickey and Radmilo embark on a road trip across Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo as Mickey attempts to assemble a fearsome security team for the parade. As they gather Mickey’s old friends from the war, it becomes clear to all that so-called enemies are often the greatest allies. The second screening of The Parade on 21 March will be followed by a discussion led by Boris Dittrich, LGBT advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

Crises and Migration

Three films highlight the issues of humanitarian aid, conflict and migration:

In Fatal Assistance, Raoul Peck, the award-winning Haitian-born filmmaker, takes viewers on a two-year journey inside the challenging, contradictory, and colossal rebuilding efforts in post-earthquake Haiti. The film dives headlong into the complexity of the reconstruction process and the practice and impact of worldwide humanitarian and development aid, revealing the disturbing extent of a general failure. The film reveals that a major portion of the money pledged to Haiti was never disbursed, nor used for actual reconstruction. Fatal Assistance leads to one clear conclusion: current aid policies and practice in Haiti need to change. A question and answer session with Peck will follow.

In My Afghanistan: Life in the Forbidden Zone Nagieb Khaja, a Danish journalist of Afghan origin, travels to Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province in Afghanistan. Because journalists are not able to move safely outside of the capital, contact with the civilian population in rural areas is almost impossible. Khaja gives people living in outlying communities mobile phones equipped with cameras and asks them to film their daily lives, providing a rare glimpse into the war-torn existence of ordinary Afghans. Viewers ride along with Hakl Sahab in his 70-year-old Jeep with no brakes, get hair-styling tips from Jurna Gulm, seek shelter from firefights with Shukrullah, and watch Abdul Mohammed, a farmer and widower, raise his four children alone. Alternating between the participants’ scenes of daily life and Nagieb’s own experiences, My Afghanistan depicts a country where civilians are the greatest victims of the war, and Afghans struggle to live in the constant shadow of violence. A question and answer session with Khaja will follow.

In Nowhere Home the documentary filmmaker Margreth Olin follows a number of boys from Salhus, a Norwegian centre offering temporary residence to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. While all the boys at Salhus hope for an extension of their asylum status, they face deportation and uncertain futures in Afghanistan, Iraq or other war-torn countries once they turn 18. Nowhere Home scrutinises one of Europe's major moral dilemmas. A question and answer session with Olin will follow.

Still from Nowhere Home

Focus on Asia/South Asia

The festival will screen four films from Asia and South Asia:

Joshua Oppenheimer’s cinematic experiment, The Act of Killing, explores a chapter of Indonesia’s history by enlisting a group of former killers, including the Indonesian paramilitary leader Anwar Congo, to re-enact their lives in the style of the films they love. When the government of President Sukarno was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his cohorts joined in the mass murder of more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals. Now, Anwar and his team perform detailed re-enactments of their crimes with pride, holding numerous discussions about sets, costumes, and pyrotechnics. Their fixation on style rather than substance—despite the ghastly nature of the scenes—makes them mesmerising to watch. But as movie violence and real-life violence begin to overlap, Anwar's pride gradually gives way to regret, leaving him overwhelmed by the horrific acts he has chosen to share with the world. A question and answer session with filmmaker Oppenheimer (tbc) will follow.

Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution tells the love story of the human rights activist Kirsty Sword and the political prisoner Xanana Gusmão. Once an aspiring documentary filmmaker, Sword instead became a revolutionary, working in Jakarta for the Timorese resistance. Using the pseudonym “Ruby Blade,” she smuggled video equipment, computers, and audio cassettes to their leader, Gusmão, who was serving a life sentence in the notorious Cipinang Prison. As they exchanged letters, video messages, paintings, photographs and even bonsai trees, they fell in love without ever having met. Through archival footage, accounts from friends, and interviews with Sword herself, the film not only explores their relationship, but also the history of a decade of resistance that ultimately led to the UN-organized referendum on East Timor in 1999 and the country’s independence. A question and answer session with the filmmaker, Alex Meillier, will follow.

Camp 14 – Total Control Zone is a portrait of a young man who grew up imprisoned by dehumanising violence yet found the will to escape. Born inside a North Korean prison camp as the child of political prisoners, Shin Dong-Huyk was raised in a world where all he knew was punishment, torture, and abuse. The filmmaker, Marc Wiese, crafts his documentary by quietly drawing details from Shin in interviews in which Shin’s silence says as much as his words. Weaving anecdotes from a former camp guard and a member of the secret police with powerful animated scenes capturing key moments in Shin's life, Wiese pulls audiences into Shin’s world. Shin escapes and becomes a human rights ‘celebrity,’ but his life outside the camp is often just as challenging as it was inside it. A question and answer session with Wiese will follow.

The award-winning documentarian Anand Patwardhan felt compelled to make Jai Bhim Comrade in response to the suicide of the singer, poet and activist Vilas Ghogre, who hanged himself after the police shooting in 1997 of 10 unarmed Dalit (‘untouchable’) protesters in Mumbai’s slums. The shootings also caused 2,000 years of oppression to boil over. Patwardhan focuses his lens on the abuses against India’s Dalits in this magnum opus 14 years in the making, incorporating their voice through their stirring resistance music and poetry. The Dalits were denied basic human rights for centuries, condemned to clean the filth of the upper caste for rupees a day, and then abhorred as lesser beings. Their struggle is counterbalanced by intimate family portraits, moments of inspiration, and glimpses of a better future. A question and answer session with Patwardhan will follow.

Still from Jai Bhim Comrade

Occupation and the Rule of Law

In an unprecedented and candid series of interviews, six former heads of the Shin Bet—Israel's intelligence and security agency—speak about their role in Israel's decades-long counterterrorism campaign. Dror Moreh’s Academy Award® nominated The Gatekeepers is a rare glimpse into the untold history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the point of view of the Shin Bet. In this series of one-on-one interviews, combined with never-before-seen archival footage, Moreh provides unfettered access to the decisions, rationalisations, and regrets of Israel’s most powerful homeland security officials. As these veteran intelligence chiefs speak with detachment about their participation in some of Israel’s most controversial counterterrorist initiatives, their steely singularity of purpose—to maintain the state’s security—remains constant. Followed by discussion with Moreh (tbc) and Bill Van Esveld, Israel/Palestine researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The Law In These Parts raises the question: can a modern democracy impose a prolonged military occupation on another people while retaining its core democratic values? Since Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War, the Israeli military has imposed thousands of orders and laws, established military courts, sentenced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to detention, enabled half-a-million Israeli citizens to move to the occupied territories, and developed a system of long-term jurisdiction by an occupying army. In The Law in These Parts, military legal professionals talk about the legal system they helped to design and implement in its formative years. A question and answer session led by Van Esveld will follow.

Still from The Law in These Parts


Wednesday 13 March 18.45 | Curzon Mayfair | Discussion and Reception
Benefit Film and Reception
War Witch
(Dir Kim Nguyen, Canada, 2012, 90min) Drama
In French and Lingala with English subtitles
2013 Academy Award® Nominee for best foreign language film, Silver Bear for best actress Rachel Mwanza, Berlin Film Festival 2012

Thursday 14 March 18.30 | Curzon Soho | Discussion and Reception
Opening Night Film & Reception
Salma (Exclusive Preview)
(Dir Kim Longinotto, UK/India, 2013, 90min) Doc
In Tamil with English subtitles
Official selection Sundance Film Festival 2013

Friday 15 March 21.00 | Curzon Soho
Mon 18 Mar 21.15 | Ritzy
The Patience Stone
(Dir Atiq Rahimi, France, 2012, 98min) Drama
In Farsi with English subtitles
Official selection Toronto International Film Festival 2012

Friday 15 March 18.30 | ICA | Q&A with Filmmaker
Sat 16 Mar 16.30 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Rafea: Solar Mama
(Dir Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief, Denmark/US/England, 2012, 85min) Doc
In Arabic with English subtitles
Official selection International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2012

Friday 15 March 18.30 | Curzon Soho | Q&A with Filmmaker + Film Subject (tbc)
Thu 21 Mar 21.00 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker + Film Subject (tbc)
In the Shadow of the Sun (UK premiere)
(Dir Harry Freeland, UK/Tanzania, 2012, 84min) Doc
In English and Swahili with English subtitles

Friday 15 March 21.00 | Ritzy | Discussion with Filmmaker (tbc) and Bill Van Esveld, Israel/Palestine researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Saturday 16 Mar 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Discussion with Filmmaker (tbc) and Bill Van Esveld, Israel/Palestine researcher for Human Rights Watch
The Gatekeepers
(Dir Dror Moreh, Israel, 2012, 95min) Doc
In English and Hebrew with English subtitles
2013 Academy Award® Nominee for best documentary feature, official selection Sundance Film Festival 2013

Saturday 15 March 18.15 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Sat 16 Mar 14.30 | ICA | Q&A with Filmmaker
Fatal Assistance
(Raoul Peck, Haiti/France/US, 2012, 100min) Doc
In English and French and Haitian Creole with English subtitles
Official selection Berlin Film Festival 2013

Saturday 16 March 16.00 | Curzon Soho | Discussion with Bill Van Esveld, Israel/Palestine researcher for Human Rights Watch
Sun 17 Mar 16.00 | Ritzy | Discussion Bill Van Esveld, Israel/Palestine researcher for Human Rights Watch
The Law in These Parts
(Dir Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, Israel, 2011, 101min) Doc
In Hebrew with English subtitles
World Cinema jury prize documentary Sundance Film Festival 2012

Saturday 16 March 19.00 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Sun 17 Mar 18.00 | Curzon Soho | Q&A with Filmmaker
My Afghanistan – Life in the Forbidden Zone (UK premiere)
(Dir Nagieb Khaja, Denmark, 2012, 88min) Doc
In English and Danish, Dari and Pashtu with English subtitles
Official selection Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2012

Sunday 17 March 17.30 | ICA | Q&A with Filmmaker
Tue 19 Mar 18.15 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Camera/Woman (UK Premiere)
(Dir Karima Zoubir, Morocco, 2012, 59min) Doc
In Arabic with English subtitles
preceded by: Going Up the Stairs
(Dir Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, Iran, 2011, 51min) Doc
In Farsi with English subtitles
Official selection Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2012

Monday 18 March 21.00 | Curzon Soho | Q&A with Filmmaker
Thu 21 Mar 18.30, Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Tall as the Baobab Tree
(Dir Jeremy Teicher, Senegal/US, 2012, 82min) Drama
In Pulaar with English subtitles
Official selection International Film Festival Rotterdam 2013

Monday 18 March 18.15 | Curzon Soho | Q&A with Filmmaker
Wed 20 Mar 18.15 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Camp 14 – Total Control Zone
(Dir Marc Wiese, Germany, 2012, 104min) Doc
In Korean with English subtitles
Official selection Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2012 and Toronto International Film Festival 2012

Monday 18 March 18.15 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Tue 19 Mar 18.15 | Curzon Soho | Q&A with Filmmaker
The Act of Killing (Exclusive preview)
(Dir Joshua Oppenheimer, Indonesia, 2012, 116min) Doc
In Bahasa Indonesian with English subtitles
Official selection Toronto International Film Festival 2012 and Berlin Film Festival 2013

Tuesday 19 March 21.00 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Wed 20 Mar 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Q&A with Filmmaker
Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution (UK premiere)
(Dir Alex Meillier, US/Australia, 2012, 78m) Doc
In English and Portuguese and Tetum with English subtitles
Official selection Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2012

Wednesday 20 March 18.15 | ICA | Q&A with Filmmaker
Jai Bhim Comrade
(Dir Anand Patwardhan, India, 2012, 185min) Doc
In English and Hindi and Marathi with English subtitles
Best film Mumbai International Film Festival 2012

Wednesday 20 March 21.00 | Curzon Soho
Thur 21 Mar 19.30 | ICA | Discussion Boris Dittrich, the Advocacy Director for the LGBT division at Human Rights Watch.
The Parade (UK premiere)
(Dir Srdjan Dragojevic, Serbia, 2012, 115min) Drama
In Serbian with English subtitles
Winner Panorama Audience Award Berlin Film Festival 2012

Wednesday 20 March 21.00 | Ritzy | Q&A with Filmmaker
Thursday 21 March 18.40 | Curzon Soho | Q&A with Filmmaker
Nowhere Home (UK premiere)
(Dir Margreth Olin, Norway/Sweden, 2012, 90min) Doc
In English and Norwegian with English subtitles
Official selection Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2012

Friday 22 March 18:30 | Ritzy | Reception
Closing Night Film & Reception
(Dir Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia/Germany, 2012, 97min) Drama
In Arabic with English subtitles
World Cinema jury prize Documentary Sundance Film Festival 2012


Curzon Mayfair
38 Curzon Street
London W1J 7TY
box office: 0330 500 1331

Curzon Soho
99 Shaftesbury Avenue
London W1D 5DY
box office: 0330 500 1331

The Mall
London SW1Y 5AH
box office: 0207 930 3647

Ritzy Cinema
Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Lane
Brixton, London SW2 1 JG
box office: 0871 704 2065

(c) Human Rights Watch