The London Human Rights Watch Film Festival runs from the 12th to the 20th of March 2020, featuring empowering documentaries and dramas celebrating courageous people from 14 countries. Eleven of the 14 films selected for this 24th edition are directed by women. Many filmmakers, contributors, Human Rights Watch researchers, and activists will take part in rigorous post-screening Q&As and panel discussions at Barbican Cinema, Curzon Soho, and Regent Street Cinema. As detailed below and on the festival website, a number of access and school screenings will take place throughout the festival.
The festival will open at the Barbican on Thursday, 12 March, with Alexander Nanau’s powerful Collective. Following the fatal 2015 nightclub fire in Bucharest, which killed 27 young people, injured another 180, and subsequently led to the death of further 37 from bacterial infections, a group of dedicated journalists from the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor uncover a vast health-care fraud. Their relentless and detailed investigation revealed that urgent hospital funding had been siphoned off and disinfectants diluted, enriching the country’s most powerful moguls, hospital managers, doctors, and politicians. As the tide begins to turn with increased public awareness, Collective highlights the essential role of a free press in calling out corruption. The screening will be followed by an in-depth discussion with the director, Alexander Nanau, and special guests.
“Our Opening Night film for London 2020 encapsulates the core work of Human Rights Watch: investigate, expose, change,” said John Biaggi, director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. “Journalism has been under increasing assault these past few years and Alexander Nanau’s documentary highlights the resilience and challenges of good journalism in advancing human rights. I am delighted we’re opening the festival with this searing work of universal importance.”
Rubaiyat Hossain’s impressive debut drama, Made In Bangladesh, will close the festival on Friday, 20 March. Channelling real-life stories that the Bangladeshi filmmaker encountered as a women’s rights activist, this layered film shines a light on the oppressive clothing industry. It shows how Shimu, a tenacious factory worker, battles to create a union in the factory where she works, in the face of patriarchal bosses, violent disapproval from her husband, and indifferent government officials. The screening will be followed by an in-depth discussion with Rubaiyat Hossain and special guests. “One hundred years ago in Bangladesh, women had to live in seclusion. Today, they are working, they are making a living for themselves and their families, and they are fighting within the factory and at home for their rights.” Rubaiyat Hossain, director, Made in Bangladesh.