(London) – The Human Rights Watch Film Festival, now in its 28th year in London, presents a lineup of 10 award-winning, international feature-length films, in partnership with Barbican Cinema and Rich Mix and generously supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
The festival program, presented at the Barbican and Rich Mix from March 14 – 22, 2024, includes in-depth Q&As, and panel discussions with filmmakers, film participants, activists, and Human Rights Watch researchers following all screenings. The majority of the program will also stream across the UK and Ireland on the festival website from March 18 – 24. Tickets go on sale to the public on February 8. The festival has several ticketing options for audience members for whom cost is a barrier.
This year’s edition celebrates the convergence of art and human rights and highlights the role of youth in rising up to confront systems of power.
John Biaggi, director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, said:
We are very happy to present this year’s program of 10 vital and inspiring films and post-screening conversations at two of London’s standout cinemas, our long-standing venue partner, the Barbican and for the first-time, Rich Mix, a venue we’ve long admired for its ambitious and community-based programing. This year, our program of seven documentaries and three dramas spotlights the energy and determination of young people opposing systems of power, as well as art and human rights — told through the lens of women and girls, queer and trans youth, Indigenous environmental activists, and exiled artists. We also value the importance of making our program accessible.”
Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said:
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival inspires us to celebrate the courage of individuals who defend freedom and rights. I’m delighted funding raised by our players continues to support the Film Festival’s work giving marginalized people a platform to tell their stories, raising awareness on key human rights issues, and encouraging justice and equality. The festival will present a relaxed screening at the Barbican, and that five of the films will be audio described and play with captions, with live-transcription for the conversations to follow. Opening and closing night events will take place at the Barbican, both attended in person by the filmmakers and expert speakers.
The opening night film, Mediha, made by a documentary filmmaker, Hasan Oswald, is a heartfelt and intimate account of Mediha Alhamad, a teenage Yazidi girl recently returned from the captivity of the extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS), who turns the camera on herself as she initiates investigations into the crimes committed against her, standing up for her family and the Yazidi people in the process.
The closing night film, Summer Qamp, made by Jen Markowitz is an uplifting, funny and moving look at Camp fYrefly in the forests of Alberta, Canada, where LGBTQ+ teens explore their authentic selves, make friends, and build community—far away from the fierce political battle being waged against them.
The energy and power of young people continues in two more festival titles: Coconut Head Generation, directed by Alain Kassanda, provides front-row seats for lively, political, and impassioned debates in a student film club in Nigeria as they unpack critical issues facing young people today – from colonialism to government corruption, gender, and equality. In one of three festival dramas this year, Power Alley directed by Lillah Halla, depicts a young and vibrant LGBTQ+-inclusive volleyball team in Brazil that supports and fight for dignity and rights, especially when one of the team members must seek an abortion in a country where it is criminalized in most circumstances.
Speaking truth to power is at the heart of four films in the festival including two stand-out dramas.
The debut film by a former journalist turned feature filmmaker ,Mehdi Fikri, After the Fire, is a devastating look at a family’s fight for truth and justice after their son is killed at the hands of the police, which pulls back the curtain on France’s history of racial profiling and police violence. The sharp-witted and beautifully acted Inshallah a Boy, directed by Amjad Al Rasheed, features Nawal, a quietly powerful Jordanian mother whose husband unexpectedly passes away, leaving her to battle against a patriarchal legal system and attempts by her brother-in-law to claim all of her assets and guardianship of her daughter.
In the documentary Land of My Dreams, the filmmaker, Nausheen Khan, draws on her identity as an Indian Muslim woman. She intimately captures intergenerational, multi-faith women at the forefront of a nationwide nonviolent resistance movement, which began at Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim neighborhood in Delhi, to protest the Indian government’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which overtly discriminates against Muslims. We Are Guardians, co-directed by Edivan Guajajara, Chelsea Greene, and Rob Grobman centers the essential and dangerous work of Indigenous forest guardians battling governmental indifference, politically connected agribusinesses, cattle ranchers, and illegal loggers as they fight to protect their traditional land in the increasingly vulnerable Amazon rainforest.
The intersection between art and human rights is strikingly demonstrated in two films in the festival.
A Revolution on Canvas is a profile of one of Iran’s most revolutionary artists, Nickzad (Nicky) Nodjoumi. Filmmakers Sara Nodjoumi, his daughter, and Till Schauder create a rich tapestry of family history, artistic freedom, politics, and persecution that boldly reveals the power of art in the fight for human rights Tree of Violence, directed by Anna Moiseenko and using stunning animation that brings to life the work of the Russian graphic artist and activist Victoria (Vika) Lomasko, follows her as she investigates the connection between domestic and state-sponsored violence and patriarchy through her art, while the invasion of Ukraine unfolds and her personal safety in her homeland becomes less assured.
As always, the festival strives to prioritize space for identities, viewpoints, forms of expertise and experiences either silenced or marginalized in the film industry, news, and media. The festival is also committed to expanding opportunities for audience members to enjoy the events together and is working to create features that more people can access, including people who are blind or have low vision, and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Five of the festival films this year will be audio described and play with captions, with live-transcription for the conversations to follow.
Accessibility specifications and details about the screenings and discussions can be found at: