Thursday, November 06, 2008

Human Rights Arts & Film Festival 2008

One of my favourite aspects of cinema is the humanistic, social and other issues that are raised, either explicitly or implicitly. Such matters give rise to discussion of those issues in the context of what amounts to my favourite art form. It's probably one of the reasons I started writing about film in the first place, culminating in this blog. I also take every opportunity I can to attend Q&A sessions, which invariably add new insights and perspectives to any given film.

The Human Rights Arts & Film Festival is screening in Melbourne from 13 - 23 November* at the Kino and RMIT Capitol cinemas (as if we didn't already have enough choice of films screening this month). Not only does the breadth of films look impressive, but nearly all of them include post-screening Q&A sessions and panel discussions. The list of speakers is awesome, including such prominent personalities as Dee McLachlan (director of The Jammed), comedienne Corinne Grant, Waleed Aly (one of my favourite writers and speakers on recent social issues), Tim Costello, Julian Burnside QC (president of Liberty Victoria, who has acted pro bono on several human rights cases, including the Tampa incident) and journalist Martin Flanagan (who once interviewed me in my home many years ago - I'm still waiting for the return of some photographic slides I lent him).

Chicago 10 (Brett Morgen, The Kid Stays in the Picture) opens the festival, as it did for Sundance 2007. It's a 'creative documentary' about the Chicago Convention of 1968 and its aftermath, that visually recalls Richard Linklater's Waking Life and Ari Folman's Waltz With Bashir. This looks terrific.

The festival program is ambitious, with films from around the world. Some are documentaries, some dramatic fiction and many shorts. Subjects covered include sexual slavery (Trade, fiction, Marco Kreuzpainter, Germany/USA and Behind Forgotten Eyes, documentary, Anthony Gilmore, Korea), the Dalai Lama and Tibet (The Unwinking Gaze, documentary, Joshua Dugdale, UK), workplace tolerance and rights (The Nothing Men, fiction, Mark Fitzpatrick, Australia), homelessness (Kicking It, documentary, Susan Koch & Jeff Werner, USA), justice (USA vs Al-Arian, animated documentary, Line Halvorsen, Norway) and many others.

Several sessions are accompanied by shorts, and there are four dedicated short film sessions: Screen Dreaming (indigenous Australian stories), Par Avion (international shorts), Reel Change (short films on the impact of climate change) and In Our Backyard (Australian shorts).

The entire program has been added to my Calendar of Film Events which you will find at the very bottom of this page (click the button beneath the calendar to subscribe to it), or you can view the full version.

Check the HRAFF website for full details.

* Ignore those Melbourne dates in the flyer above - they're wrong.

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