By Evelyn Tadros
Today marks the beginning of the 10th annual Human Rights Arts and Film Festival, which kicks off in Melbourne before touring around the country over the next month.
The festival has grown enormously and become a much anticipated national event since it began as a small grassroots event ten years ago.
For those of you who want to see what HRAFF’s Programming Director, Lauren Valmadre has recommended, see her top 10 here.
For those of you who like “for those of you” type lists, I’ve made the below list of recommendations for you!
For those of you who want to really party with us and celebrate our 10 years: come to our Opening Night film The Opposition (Thurs 4 May) and after-party (limited tickets left) and our Gala and Cocktail Party featuring Professor Gillian Triggs (Thurs 11 May)!
For those of you who want to be moved by absolutely stunning filmmaking: don’t miss Australia’s first Oscar Nominee Tanna (Fri 12 May), a beautiful love story made in collaboration with the Yakel tribe in Vanuatu, our Closing night Film, Sundance favourite, Quest (Thurs 18 May), an intimate portrait of a Philadelphian family, Lamb (Sun 7 May), the first Ethiopian film ever to be selected for Cannes and Salero (Sun 7 May) with breathtaking cinematography of Bolivia’s largest salt flat.
For those of you who want to be inspired: check out Happyland (Mon 8 May) featuring Melbourne street artist Kaff-iene (and produced by our good friend Emily Cheesman) and Constance on the Edge (Fri 5 May) about an incredible woman’s journey from war torn Sudan to Wagga Wagga (which Guardian film critic described as having a “big, bright beating heart”).
For those of you who love Academy award nominee, Joe Berlinger: you know, the guy who made Metallica Some Kind of Monster, the Paradise Lost Trilogy and HRAFF favs Crude and Under African Skies, well he’s decided to premiere yet another of his films at HRAFF this year, Intent to Destroy (Sat 6 May), a gripping documentary about the Armenian genocide and Turkey’s continual denial of it.
For those of you who want to really understand the resilience of people living in war zones: make sure you see Radio Kobani (Mon 8 May) about rebuilding a Syrian town following their liberation from ISIS and Nowhere to Hide (Sat 13 May), an insider’s look at Iraq in the midst of an ethnic civil war.
For those of you keen on fast-paced drama: check out War Book (Sat 13 May), a fictional drama in which British civil servants have to respond to a nuclear attack in Mumbai and Dheepan (Sat 6 May 8:45pm) by critically acclaimed French filmmaker Jacques Audiard as he examines the immigrant experience in contemporary Europe.
For those of you legal eagles who love a courtroom drama: don’t miss The Freedom to Marry (Sun 14 May) about the landmark US constitutional court case legalising same-sex marriage and The Opposition (Thurs 4 May and Sun 7 May) which follows Joe Moses, a resident of Paga Hill who has to fight for his home through Papua New Guinea’s justice system (and which was also subject to a Federal Court injunction and court case last year!).
For those of you looking for something kid-friendly: check out two fantastic Indigenous narratives, Satellite Boy and Zach’s Ceremony (Sun 7 May) screening as part of HRAFF’s Cineseeds program.
For those of you who want to be challenged: make sure you see The White Knights (Sat 13 May), a thought-provoking drama about the moral quagmire that faces foreign aid workers working in developing countries, The Settlers (Weds 10 May) which challenges preconceptions and gives voice to those living on both sides of the West Bank and Stranger in Paradise (Sat 6 May), a wholly unique documentary which deconstructs the opposing ideologies shaping the debate about immigration and asylum seekers.
For those of you who love music and dance: do not miss Fire At Sea with an original live score by Evelyn Ida Morris (Pikelet), Raving Iran (Fri 12 May) about two Iranian DJs who risk their lives to play the music they love and Sonita (Tues 16 May) about a young Afghan refugee living in Iran who dreams of becoming a rap superstar.
Also don’t miss HRAFF Goes West our free programme at Footscray Community Arts Centre featuring musicians from the Key of Sea project and a screening of the Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre, Stephen Page’s debut film, Spear.
For those of you who want to be galvanised to action, don’t miss Plastic China (Weds 17 May) to understand what really happens to the world’s plastic waste.
For those of you who want to have your faith in humanity restored, check out Cafe Waldluft (Sat 13 May) about Flora Kurz who welcomes refugees from across the globe to her hotel in the German Barvarian alps and An Insignificant Man (Mon 15 May) about a radically different politician who places human rights issues at the centre of his campaign.
For those of you who want to be amazed by courageous people who defy cultural expectations, watch Fallen Flowers Thick Leaves (Tues 9 May) in which Hongli, a sex therapist encourages her clients to question traditional expectations of women in China and The Pearl of Africa (Sun 14 May) which follows transgendered Ugandan woman is outed on the front page of the biggest tabloid in Kampala.
For those who are curious about the new generation, make sure you see Check It (Mon 8 May) about a group of black queer youth fighting against violence and prejudice on the streets of Washington DC and When the Earth Seems to be Light (Weds 10 May) which follows a group of young Georgian misfit skaters trying to find their place in the world.
For those who want to explore crime and justice, do not miss
For those of you who love shorts, check out the cinematic gems at Australian Shorts (Fri 5 May) and International Shorts (Tues 9 May). We’re also proud to present two more international shorts program called Defiance and Departure.
For those who are true cinephiles, join Melbourne Cinematheque’s feature of Water Rites (Weds 10 May), featuring two films Redes and A River Called Titas restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project.
For those of you who want to learn more, come to HRAFF Talks our discussion forum series. This year we present: Cinema and Social Impact, Immigration and Integration, Protest and Solidarity: First Nations and Indigenous Peoples and All is Love.
For those of you who love art, explore HRAFF’s extraordinary (mostly) FREE art program this year with Kaff-eine’s Happyland exhibition, Behind the Wire: Stories from Detention (ticketed), Koori Heritage Trust’s Weaving the Waterways and Listen to Your Elders, Rushdi Anwar’s Reframe Home with Patterns of Displacement, Rohingya: Refugee Crisis in Colour and Conflicted: Works from the Vietnam Archive Project.
For those of you who are not located in Melbourne, HRAFF is touring nationally and we’d love to see you at one of these screenings:
Sydney 23-27 May
Canberra 29-31 May
Perth 1 June
Brisbane 1-3 June
Hobart 2 June
For those of you who can’t make it but would like to support HRAFF and the work that we do, such as our collaborative art and community projects and our Cineseeds youth focused program, you can make a donation. Large or small, your gift will make a real difference!
Evelyn Tadros founded and co-directed the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival and is currently Chair of the board.