The annual Human Rights Arts and Film Festival is right around the corner, and the Castan Centre is proud to be involved as a supporter of HRAFF’s Cineseeds human rights poster competition. HRAFF’s Evelyn Tadros tell us what else to look out for at this year’s event. 

By Evelyn Tadros

HRAFF has made it to its 11th year and I’m very excited to be sharing this year’s stellar program with you, thanks to the amazing HRAFF team! HRAFF continues to provide a platform whereby creatives, organisations and the Australian public are brought together by their common desire to contribute to social change.

Below is a list of recommendations especially for those of you who love “for those of you” type lists!

For those of you who want to avoid serious FOMO (fear of missing out): do NOT miss our Opening Night film After the Apology (Thurs 3 May), a landmark documentary following four indigenous grandmothers who are fighting against the continued practice of forced child removal and bringing the children home. Featuring a Q&A with director Larissa Behrendt and after-party, this is sure to sell-out so get your tix quick!

For those of you who want a different perspective on the refugee crisis, make sure you see World Premiere film, Border Politics (Sat 12 May), which follows human rights barrister Julian Burnside QC as he examines the harsh treatment of refugees metered out by Western democracies; and Another News Story (Sat 12 May), which turns the camera on the journalists covering the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.

For those of you who love music and dance: join us for an enchanting journey with The Song Keepers (Thurs 10 and Sat 12 May) as the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir go on tour to the other side of the world; do not miss local dancer Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore’s intimate documentary, Her Sound Her Story (Fri 11 & Sat 12 May) on the significant impact that women have had on the Australian music industry and check out Step (Fri 4 and Sat 5 May), an inspiring true-life story of a group of young women from Baltimore competing to not only win the step championship but to be accepted into college.

For those of you who want to see the political and transformational power of art, check out Guilty (Fri 4 May), Matthew Sleeth’s extraordinary film about Myuran Sukamaran, one of the ‘Bali Nine’ who became an accomplished artist on death row under the tutorship of Ben Quilty; as well as You See Monsters (Sun 6 May) which follows seven Australian-Muslim artists fighting back against bigotry through their artwork.

For those of you who want to be inspired: check out Food Fighter (Thurs 10 May), which follows Ronni Kahn, the founder and CEO of the food rescue charity OzHarvest and Jaha’s promise (Sun 13 May) about an incredible woman who vows to return to her home country and lead a campaign against female genital mutilation.

For those of you who want to really understand the resilience and bravery of people living in war zones: make sure you see our Closing Night film, Last Men in Aleppo (Thurs 17 May) about the White Helmets in Syria who are among the first to scour bombed buildings for signs of life and This is Congo (Fri 4 May), a visceral look at the conflict in Congo through the eyes of the generals that lead it and the civilians who are caught in the cross-fire.

For those of you who want to be moved by absolutely stunning filmmaking, come along to Piripkura (Tues 15 May) which tracks the search for two remaining nomadic Indians of the Piripkura people in the middle of the Amazon Forest; the filmic quality of this documentary won it the Amsterdam Human Rights Award.

For those of you who want to be challenged: make sure you see A Better Man (Fri 11 May and Weds 16 May), a remarkable documentary which records the conversation between Attiya and her former boyfriend Steve who abused her on a daily basis 20 years earlier.

For those of you looking for something kid-friendly: check out our Cineseeds Youth Program on Sunday 6 May focusing on the topic of identity featuring speakers and special live performances for primary school and secondary school aged children.  This year, we’re screening Wonder, a heartwarming story of August Pullman who, born with facial differences, becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters local fifth grade; and Freak Show, which tells the heartbreaking and hilarious story of Billy Bloom, a bold confident and eccentric teenager who decides to fight back on behalf of all the misunderstood freaks of the world.

For those of you looking to develop your young one’s leadership skills, why not book them into our inaugural Youth for Human Rights Summit (4 May) which aims to empower the next generation of human rights leaders through interactive workshops, skills training and access to industry mentors and leaders in the human rights and arts sector through film, literature, virtual reality and games. Open to 12 to 25 year olds.

For those of you who want to burst your bubble, join Timothy George Kelly in Brexitannia (Sun 6 May) as he travels round the UK speaking to citizens across the political divide about the historic Brexit vote and Jackson (Sun 13 May), an intimate look at the issues surrounding abortion through the voices of women in the Deep South who stand on both sides of the debate.

For those of you who want to be galvanised to action, check out Freedom for the Wolf (Tues 8 May), which follows activists across the world who are pushing against elected leaders that are slowly eroding their freedoms and fundamental human rights; and do not miss Silas (Tues 15 May) which follows Liberian activist who emboldens communities to raise their fists and smartphones, seize control of their lands and protect their environment (and here’s a fun fact, Leonardo DiCaprio was executive producer of this film!)   

For those of you who want to be amazed by courageous people who will  fight for their rights, make sure you see Leitis in Waiting (Weds 16 May) about an intrepid group of transgender Polynesian women who are standing up to the rising tide of religious fundamentalism in Tonga; and also The Grown Ups (Sat 5 May) a humorous and empowering portrait of a group of friends with Down syndrome who decide to push back against a society that refuses to treat them as grown ups.

For those who want to explore crime, justice and redemption, make sure you see Land of the Free (Thurs 10 May), a candid documentary following the lives of three people released from prison in the US, who have to learn for themselves how to live on the outside.

For those of you who love shorts, you must not miss our two Australian shorts program (Aust Shorts 1 & Aust Shorts 2) which are screening back to back (Mon 7 and Sun 13 May), our International shorts program (Mon 14 May) and our new Femme Shorts program(Mon 14 May), which celebrates the victories, exposes the struggles and highlights the everyday trivialities of those who identify as women.

For those of you who want to see the talent coming from the African diaspora in Australia, then do not miss Picture This (Weds 2 May 2018) a film showcase and conversation with super talented Ez Eldin Deng (filmmaker and creative consultant to SBS series Sunshine) and Noray Mohammed Neberay (actor).

For those who are true cinephiles, join Melbourne Cinematheque’s screening of Pontecorvo’s classic The Battle of Algiers (Weds 9 May) and Hondo’s rediscovered debut feature, Soleil O (9 May).

For those of you who love to PARTY while supporting a good cause, come join us at our annual Gala cocktail party (Thurs 31 May) which is always a wonderful night!  Screening a selection of our favourite shorts as well as a live auction and art sale, the gala is guaranteed to put the FUN into fundraising!  

For those of you passionate about indigenous films, don’t miss After the Apology (Thurs 3 May), The Song Keepers (Thurs 10 and Sat 12 May) and our Aust Shorts 1 & Aust Shorts 2 programs (Mon 7 and Sun 13 May).

For those of you interested in gender equality, check out A Better Man (Fri 11 May and Weds 16 May), Jaha’s promise (Sun 13 May)  Her Sound Her Story (Fri 11 & Sat 12 May), Leitis in Waiting (Weds 16 May), Jackson (Sun 13 May), and Femme Shorts (Mon 14 May).

For those of you wanting to understand the interaction between the environment and human rights, see Piripkura (Tues 15 May), Silas (Tues 15 May) and Food Fighter (Thurs 10 May).

For those of you who want to learn more, come to HRAFF Talks our discussion forum series.  This year we present:

After the Apology (Sat 5 May) featuring Richard Frankland discussing the indigenous self-determination and liberation in visual culture, film and art since Rudd’s national apology to members of the Stolen Generation;

Where to from #metoo? (Sun 6 May) featuring TextaQueen and Torika Bolatagici discussing how women can locate and embed agency in community, in work and in love.

Resistance on the Ground, Resilience in the Earth: (Sat 12 May) featuring Tony Birch and Latai Taumoepeau discussing recent grassroots movements tackling climate change and colonialism in the Asia Pacific

Thresholds of Visibility: on Representing Refugee Experiences (Sun 13 May) featuring Roj Amedi and Aseel Tayah discussing the representation of refugee experiences and whose resistance is made invisible.

For those of you who love art, explore HRAFF’s extraordinary (mostly) FREE art program this year, check out Visible at The Artists Guild, Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant and The Immigration Museum, Baga-K Gaabi Brunga Biik and The Canoe Project at the Koorie Heritage Trust Inc, Bleeding Hearts at the Burrinja Community Cultural Centre, Daydreamer Wolf at Abbotsford Convent and Chapter Lane, Shot on the Road at Fitzroy Library, Inherent in All at Brunswick Street Gallery, Caliban Riverlinks Arts Centre, Donbas: Photography from Ukraine’s War Torn East and Les Voyageurs at Counihan Gallery, Spoken Word evening and Do We Need Another Hero featuring TextaQueen at Bunjil Place Studio.

For those of you who live in ACT or Tasmania, HRAFF is touring to:

Launceston 19-20 May

Canberra 29 May – 2 June

For those of you who LOVE HRAFF and can help us spread the word, why not  forward this email on to family, friends and colleagues or organise a group to check out an event, like and share HRAFF’s posts on social media (below are our links to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) or distribute the electronic or hard copy programs at your workplace (just email me to arrange some programs)?

For those of you who have the capacity to support HRAFF and the work that we do, 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. 

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