The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is celebrating its 25th year. As is the way, in 2021 the festival will be holding all of its screenings digitally. The opening night film is The 8th which follows veteran campaigner Ailbhe Smyth and self-described glitter-activist Andrea Horan as they chart a bold strategy of grassroots activism to engineer the impossible and carry a traditionally conservative and religious electorate over the line to extend rights to women seeking an abortion.
Other gems to look out for in the festival are:
A Thousand Cuts which will screened at the festival. It focuses on Rodrigo Duterte promised violence with a declared “war on drugs.” Join prominent journalist Maria Ressa and her publication Rappler as they investigate thousands of government-sanctioned murders of primarily poor people accused of using or selling drugs. To suppress reporting on his mounting abuses, Duterte unleashes a powerful disinformation campaign on social media, targeting journalists with arrests, and violent threats. In this searing film, follow Ressa and her fearless team as they risk their own freedom in defence of truth and democracy.
There’s a Q & A with the filmmaker Ramona Diaz and Maria Ressa on March 20.
BELLY OF THE BEAST
Belly of the Beast follows two brave women who find a pattern of illegal involuntary sterilisations in California’s women’s prisons. They launch a battle against the system. With a growing team of women inside prison working with formerly incarcerated colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of state-wide crimes – from dangerously inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilisations – primarily targeting Black, Latinx and Indigenous women. Captured over seven years, this shocking and emboldening legal drama is a damning account of a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States, featuring a group of extraordinary women determined to ensure it ends here and now.
There’s a Q& A with the filmmakers, Erika Cohn and Robin Levi on 19 March.
Peter Murimi’s, I Am Samuel which I saw as part of LFF 2020, read my review here.
The 25th Human Rights Watch Film Festival – taking place online, on Barbican Cinema On Demand, 18-26 March (available UK-wide), click here to book tickets.