“Watch Docs ? Human Rights in Film” is an international documentary film festival showing from Nov. 15-18 at Kino Pod Baranami. The festival, organized by The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR) over the past 7 years, is a mechanism for educating a wider public audience about human rights through the language of film.
Warsaw hosts the main festival in December, with Watch Docs’ touring program this year being shown across 19 cities in Poland along with Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Watch Docs has had a touring program since 2003. This is its third visit to Krakow.
Last year’s program attracted more than 3000 viewers and the number of films is growing every year. Two years ago there were 27 films in the program; this year there is over 70. All of the films are grouped into 11 thematic sections and are complemented by meetings and discussions with scientists, experts and social activists. Most of the films and events are in English.
The winning films of last year’s Watch Docs will be screened for the opening of the Krakow festival program. “These are the most interesting films, with the prizes they received being the best testimony to this,” said Urszula Kahul coordinator of the Krakow festival program.
A school in Nepal, shootings in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, an editing masterpiece which consists solely of archival films from the World War II siege of Leningrad, and a Chinese orphanage are among the films showing on the opening night.
Films from Israel “Avenge But One of My Two Eyes” by Avi Mograbi, France “Even if She Had Been a Criminal?” by Jean-Gabriel Periot, Canada and Norway “On a Tightrope” by Peter Lom, Poland “Go to Louisa” by Grzegorz Pacek and “How to Do It” by Marcel Lozinski, Russia “Blockade” by Sergei Loznitsa, Serbia “Punam” by Lucian Muntean and the U.S. “Bullets in the Hood: A Bed-Stuy Story” by Terrence Fisher and Daniel Howard have received recognition at previous international film festivals.
All will be on show at Kino Pod Baranami on Nov. 16 at 19:00 and Nov. 19 at 17:00 at Kino Sfinks Theater in Nowa Huta. Before the official opening on Nov. 16 a selection of short films “Gestures of Reconciliation” will be screened at the Goethe Institute.
The films are from an international competition involving 280 young filmmakers from 11 countries, which was organized in 2005 by the German Fund “Remembrance and the Future” and the Goethe Institute, and revolve around the common theme of cross-cultural gestures of reconciliation as reflected in all domains of social life.
On the following evening the Goethe Institute will screen from 17:00 “The Discreet Charm of Propaganda.” These are two, very well documented German films: “The Goebbels Experiment” by Lutz Hachmeister and “Hitler’s Hit Parade” by Oliver Axer and Suzanne Benze.
The first one tries to break the stereotype of Goebbels as an “inveterate liar of the Third Reich” by exposing him as stage-managing his life and constantly reinventing himself.
“Hitler’s Hit Parade” is an archival composition. It comprises amateur, animated and educational movies as well as commercials and propaganda clips all to the accompaniment of dance and popular music from the Third Reich.
“I especially recommend Street Fight by Marshall Curry, an Oscar nominated documentary film about democracy,” says fellow Krakow program coordinator Jolanta Rydel. “The director sets up camp in Newark, U.S., to focus on a local election contest.”
Screening in the “Election Campaigns Backstage” section of the
program, the U.S. film about an Iraq election in 2005, My Country, My Country, is reportedly quite well known in its land of origin, the U.S.
Consul in Krakow John Surface will be present after the screening of the Street Fight movie on Saturday to meet with fellow filmgoers.
Films from India, Cuba and Burma dominate this year’s festival. In addition to a retrospective of Indian director Ananda Patwardhana and documentaries filmed in or about Cuba, there will be meetings and discussion panels.
On Nov. 18 there will be a meeting with Solidarity Polish-Burma Society member Sylwia Gil and Than Htike from Burma, who will talk about the current political and social situation in his country.
“It is hard not to organize such an event with what is happening in Burma,” said Rydel.
There will also be an opportunity to talk about Cuba with Daniel B. Burns, who spent many years in the country helping nuns looking after street children.
Admission to all film screenings and accompanying events is free. Free entry tickets can be collected at Kino Pod Baranami during the week preceding the festival. Details can be found at: www.hfhrpol.waw.pl/festival and www.kinopodbaranami.pl
The first five Krakow Post readers to ask for a free ticket at Kino Pod Baranami will receive free entry for the opening night on Nov. 12. The Krakow Post is an official media partner of the event.