Birmingham International Film Society presents the regions first ever Human Rights Film
Festival. The Festival aims to screen a range of films that investigate the notion of human
rights in the 21st Century as measured against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
With a wide selection of specially invited guest speakers – filmmakers, commentators,
academics and campaigners – our aim is to give audiences the opportunity to discuss and
debate the issues highlighted in the films.
With recent events at home and abroad, the Arab Spring and the riots across Britain, as well
as the consequences of recent conflicts – extraordinary rendition and Guantánamo – the whole
concept of human rights has been put under intense scrutiny.
What are human rights, who is entitled to them and how are they represented by our media?
Article 21 ‘(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will
shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal
suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.’
Tuesday 6 September 7.30pm Library Theatre
* The Green Wave (12A)
Dir: Ali Samadi Ahadi Iran 2010
1hr 20mins Farsi with subtitles
Green is the colour of hope, Islam and the symbol of recognition among supporters of presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who became the symbolic figure of the Green Revolution. The presidential elections on June 12th, 2009 were supposed to bring about a change, but contrary to all expectations ultra-conservative populist Ahmadinejad was confirmed in office. Using the testimony of brave Iranian bloggers who risked imprisonment, torture and death, alongside protestors’ mobile phone images and animated sequences, The Green Wave tells the true story of how popular demonstrations were suppressed by brutal attacks from government militia. Ahadi’s new film is a compelling document of the events now seen as a precursor to the recent ‘Arab Spring’.
‘A poetic and heartfelt portrait of a nation oppressed’ – Eye for Film
The festival opens with a special reception at the Library Theatre at 6.30pm followed by an
opening address by Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. This will be followed by a
special preview screening of The Green Wave.
Article 20 (1) ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.’
Thursday 8 September 6pm Vivid
* Just Do It (E)
Dir: Emily James UK 2010 1hr 29mins
Just Do It lifts the lid on climate activism and the daring troublemakers who have crossed the
line to become modern-day outlaws. Documented over a year, Emily James’ film follows these
activists as they blockade factories, attack coal power stations and glue themselves to the
trading floors of international banks despite the very real threat of arrest.
‘A smart, funny, adrenalised portrait of 21st century activism’ – The Guardian
The screening will be introduced by the director Emily James and will be followed by a
Article 19 ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.’
Thursday 8 September 8.15pm Vivid
* An Independent Mind (E)
Dir: Rex Bloomstein UK 2008 1hr 29mins
Article 19 enshrines the right to freedom of opinion and expression, yet the emergence of new
threats challenges the balance between the security of the state and the freedom of the
individual. Visiting Algeria, Burma, China, Guatemala, Ivory Coast, Spain, Syria and the UK,
Bloomstein’s film shows how eight artists and journalists have experienced resistance,
persecution, exile, imprisonment and isolation for voicing their points of view.
The film will be introduced by director Rex Bloomstein, followed by a discussion on his film and
the right to freedom of speech.
‘Bloomstein’s thoughtful, subtle film asks what has become of one of the defining questions of
our time… Excellent’ – The Guardian
* HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFRICA
For many years large parts of West Africa have been plagued by violent disputes resulting in
hunger, homelessness, mutilation and death. Events in Sierra Leone, Liberia and more
recently the Ivory Coast have been highlighted by the British media. These conflicts are fuelled
by differences in history, religion, language and culture of different groups corralled into postcolonial boundaries. These two films examine the complex issues involved and show
contrasting ways to try and make peace.
Article 8 ‘Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals
for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.’
Tuesday 13 September 6.15pm Library Theatre
* Pray the Devil Back to Hell (E)
Dir: Geni Reticker 2008 USA 1hr 12 mins
This inspirational film dramatically reconstructs the remarkable story of how the Christian and
Muslim women of Liberia, tired of the lawless and brutal regime of the corrupt President
Charles Taylor, joined together in a peace movement to protest and end the country’s savage
civil war. Putting their lives at risk, they dramatically intervened to bring about final peace
which resulted in the election of the country’s first female President.
The film will be introduced by Dr Keith Shear, Lecturer in African Studies at the Centre for
West African Studies, University of Birmingham ‘Reticker’s film captures it all… with tremendous spirit’ – The Independent Critic ‘Inspiring’ – Chicago Tribune
Tuesday 13 September 8.15pm Library Theatre
* The Night of Truth (18)
Dir: Fanta Régina Nacro 2004 Burkina Faso/ France
1hr 36mins French, Dioula & Mooré with subtitles
Cast: Naky Sa Savané, Moussa Cissé, Georgette Paré
Set in a fictitious West African country which has been torn asunder by a decade-long civil
war, this drama unfolds in an evening where the leaders of the two opposing tribes come
together to put an end to conflict with a feast of reconciliation. Nacro uses a Shakespearean
device to draw out a universal truth that is equally applicable to the genocides in Rwanda or
‘Impressively dramatized and crafted’ – Variety
‘Masterful’ – Time Out
The film will be introduced by Dr Keith Shear, Lecturer in African Studies at the Centre for
West African Studies, University of Birmingham
* HUMAN RIGHTS IN SOUTH AMERICA
All across South America, human rights abuses have been prevalent in the continent’s recent
history. Columbia and Argentina are cases in point: Colombians suffer a dire human rights
situation due in part to the country’s 45 year-old internal armed conflict; in Argentina,
mothers (now grandmothers) of the Plaza de Mayo continue to search for their lost
grandchildren, the children of the ‘disappeared’ (left-wing opponents of the Junta), sold for
adoption during the round-ups of 1975-83.
Article 23 (4) ‘Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his
Thursday 15 September 6.15pm Library Theatre
* The Coca-Cola Case (E)
Dir: Carmen Garcia & Hermán Gutiérrez USA 2009
1hr 25mins English/ Spanish with subtitles
A searing indictment of the Coca-Cola empire, the film follows two workers rights activists as
they attempt to hold the transnational corporation accountable for its human rights violations.
Many Union leaders at bottling plants in Columbia have been murdered. Hundreds of others
have been tortured, kidnapped and/or illegally detained by violent paramilitaries working with
plant management. Since 2002, around 470 unionists have been murdered making Columbia
the trade union murder capital of the world.
The screening will be followed by a discussion led by a representative from the Colombian
trade unions, c/o Justice for Colombia.’Explosive new film’ – Boston Herald
Article 3 ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.’
Thursday 15 September 8pm Library Theatre
* The Official Story (15)
Dir: Luis Puenzo 1985 Argentina
1hr 52mins Spanish with subtitles
Cast: Norma Aleandro, Héctor Alterio, Chunchuna Villafañe
Buenos Aires 1983; Alicia is happily married to Roberto, a successful lawyer who is well
connected. The couple have an adopted five-year old daughter, Gaby. When an old friend tells
her about the children of the ‘disappeared’, Alicia questions Gaby’s origins and begins an
investigation which will change her life forever.
Winner Golden Globe/Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film 1986
Best Actress Cannes 1985
‘A performance that will be hard to forget’ – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Article 5 ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
Tuesday 20 September 7pm Library Theatre
* Four Days Inside Guantánamo (E)
Dir: Luc Côté, Patricio Henriquiz
Australia/Canada/UK 2010 1hr 40mins
A documentary based on security camera footage from the Guantánamo Bay prison.
This encounter between a team of Canadian intelligence agents and a child detainee in
Guantánamo has never before been seen. Based on seven hours of video footage recently
declassified by the Canadian courts, this documentary delves into the unfolding high-stakes
game of cat and mouse between captor and captive over a four day period. Maintaining the
surveillance camera style this film analyzes the political, legal and scientific aspects of a forced
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Moazzem Begg and
representatives from Freedom From Torture and the Birmingham Guantánamo Campaign.
Article 6 ‘Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person
before the law.’
Thursday 22 September 6pm Light House, Wolverhampton
* Arna’s Children (E)
Dir: Juliano Mer Khamis, Danniel Danniel Israel 2003 1hr 24mins
Arabic/Hebrew with subtitles
In Jenin 1989, a Jewish woman, Arna Mer Khamis, founded a theatre workshop for Palestinian
children. This poignant film is a comprehensive portrait of resistance during the second
intifada, witnessing in close-up the lives of Palestinian children shaped by a brutal occupation.
On April 4, 2011, her son, the film‘s director, Juliano Mer Khamis was assassinated in Jenin by
masked gunmen. Despite his tragic loss, the Freedom Theatre lives on, as does Mer Khamis’
vision of the creative process as a medium for social change.
Best Documentary Feature Tribeca Film Festival 2004
The screening, in collaboration with West Midlands PSC and the Birmingham-Ramallah
Twinning Committee, will be introduced by Chris Khamis, cousin of the director.
Article 14 (1) ‘Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum
Tuesday 27 September 6pm mac
* A Better Life (12A)
Dir: Chris Weitz USA 2011 1hr 38mins
Cast: Demian Birchir, José Julián & Dolores Heredia
A touching, poignant, multi-generational film about a father’s love and the lengths a parent
will go to give his child the opportunities he never had. Weitz depicts the side of America
rarely shown in film – its phantom world of undocumented immigrants. Echoing De Sica’s
‘Bicycle Thieves’, Weitz gives a human dimension to the story of an ‘illegal’, a Mexican
handyman, one of thousands who toil unseen in the lush greenery of Beverly Hills under the
radar of the authorities.
‘Brilliant, tender and compelling masterpiece’ – Toronto Star
The screening will be followed by a discussion hosted by Dave Stamp, Farisai Muzenda and
Zirak Hamad from the Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team (ASIRT).
Article 12 ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home
or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to
the protection of the law against such interference or attacks’
Wednesday 28 September 6.15pm Library Theatre
* Article 12 (E)
Dir: Juan Manuel Biaiñ UK/Argentina 2010 1hr 16mins
Featuring: Noam Chomsky, Simon Davies, Brian Eno, A.C. Grayling & Amy Goodman
Exploring the current state of privacy and the rise of surveillance, a number of academics,
cultural figures and technologists share their insightful thoughts on an increasing climate of
fear, and how the aftermath of 9/11 has elevated state security above an individual’s right to
‘A striking documentary’ – Morning Star
Wednesday 28 September 8pm Library Theatre
* Defeat of the Champion (E)
Dir: Ken Fero & Tariq Mehmood UK 2011 25mins
In Birmingham 2010, police covertly erected a number of CCTV cameras for ‘Project
Champion’ – an anti-terrorist initiative which incensed members of the communities it was
ring fencing. This is the story of how it was successfully opposed by local residents.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion including director Ken Fero and Steve
Jolly, active campaigner against CCTV.
Article 13 (1) ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the
borders of each state’
Tuesday 4 October 6.15pm Library Theatre
* Pavee Céilidh (E)
Dir: Kareim El-Jamal UK 2009 48mins
Irish travellers have born the brunt of prejudice and ignorance for many years. This film allows
them to speak personally about their culture, their community, and their experiences in the
UK, including the discriminatory acts that resulted in the murder of a young traveller boy.
With a post-screening discussion on the film and current conditions for the community by
Tracy Corcoran (Irish Travellers Movement in Britain).
Article 21 (2) ‘Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.’
Tuesday 4 October 8pm Library Theatre
* Our Generation (E)
Dir: Sinem Saban Australia 2010 1hr 13mins
Highlighting the plight of Aborigines in Australia and focusing on the Yolngu tribe in the
Northern Territory, we are shown how continual lack of respect and understanding for Yolngu
tradition and their rights has reduced quality of life to third world conditions, with appalling
health, housing and educational provision. Combining stock footage with new interviews, this
is an incisive look into a systematic persecution of the world’s oldest living culture.
‘An explosive insight into years of neglect, ignorance and stereotyping… it also offers hope’ –
The film will be introduced by the Director Sinem Saban and Producer Damien Curtis with a
Festival Venues & Ticket Prices
Birmingham Library Theatre Chamberlain Square, next to Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham B3
Library Theatre & Vivid Tickets: £4 Full price £3 Concessions
Special ticket for both films on night – £7 Full price, £5 Concessions
Midlands Arts Centre (mac) Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH
0121 446 3232 www.macarts.co.uk
Tickets: £6.50 Full price, £4.50 Concessions
Light House Media Centre The Chubb Buildings, Fryer Street,
Wolverhampton, WV1 1HT 01902 716055 www.light-house.co.uk
Tickets: £5.80 Full price, £4.40 Concessions