Human right watch documentary film festival goes digital

Humans right watch has presented its documentary film festival selection in a new form. Due to the corona virus pandemic it will be a digital festival only and there will be some additional digital features to try to supplement the experience of actually having a festival take place.

It will feature in-depth online discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, and Human Rights Watch researchers. The documentaries and the conversations will talk about how the communities around the world are struggling with the pandemic.

Human Right watch

John Biaggi, Director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival says “At a time when the world is experiencing a profound shared adversity, it is particularly heartening to witness the brave individuals and strong communities in the 11 films in this year’s program. They overcome adversity in so many remarkable and moving ways to show us all how struggle can create positive and powerful change for humanity.”

It will also continue to cooperate with its long-time cinema venue partners Film at Lincoln Center and IFC Center for the online 2020 edition of the festival. It will return to this venue once things get back to normal.

The line up

The full lineup of the US Digital Festival Premieres of the 2020 Human Rights Watch Film Festival are as follows:

The 8th, Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy, Maeve O’Boyle, USA/Ireland

Belly of the Beast (Opening Night), Erika Cohn, USA

Coded Bias, Shalini Kantayya, USA/UK/China/South Africa

Down a Dark Stairwell, Ursula Liang, USA

From Here, Christina Antonakos-Wallace, USA

Gather (Closing Night), Sanjay Rawal, USA

I Am Samuel, Peter Murimi, Kenya/Canada/UK/USA

Maxima, Claudia Sparrow, USA

Radio Silence, Juliana Fanjul, Switzerland/Mexico

Reunited, Mira Jargil, Denmark/Sweden

Welcome to Chechnya, David France, USA

The tickets

There are still tickets available for purchase and these tickets will allow you to watch the content online. The sale starts on May 14th. You could get a ticket for a particular title or a festival wide tickets that will allow you access to all 11 films. There’s a limited number of tickets for each film, as it would be if the festival is still taking places in person.

Ticket prices are: $9 individual ticket (public), $8 individual ticket for members of Film at Lincoln Center, Human Rights Watch Film Festival and IFC Center members, or $70 for a festival pass.

Audience participation

Audience will also be able to participate in the discussion with the with the filmmakers, Human Rights Watch experts, and special guests. For details please visit

Members of the media may request advanced press screeners by contacting: Julia Pacetti / Cordelia Sklansky, Verdant Communications, &

The statements

Dennis Lim, Director of Programming for Film at Lincoln Center and the New York Film Festival states, “Film at Lincoln Center is proud to continue its long partnership with the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. This annual showcase has always reminded us of the power of cinema to make a difference, which makes this digital edition all the more essential in these challenging times.”

John Vanco, Senior Vice President and General Manager of IFC Center, adds, “IFC Center is honored to continue working with the Human Rights Watch Film Festival as the festival adapts to our new reality. Their mission of providing a showcase for important and inspiring films remains as vital as ever.”

The principles

The 11 films that will be shown at this digital festival are spanning the globe and tackle a variety of different topics ranging from reform of the criminal justice system in the US to the fight for reproductive rights in Ireland and the reframing of long-suppressed yet ever-powerful indigenous voices in Peru and North America.

There are 3 main principles that guide the festival and its film selection. Those are: Investigate, Expose, and Change.

The films

If you’re going to watch only one film shown at the festival, it should be one of those.

The 8th 

Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy, Maeve O’Boyle, USA/Ireland, 2020, documentary, 94 minutes, English Live Online Q&A with filmmaker and guests on Friday, June 19, 7pm (EDT)

It’s a film about the political struggle for reproductive rights in Ireland and revoking the 8th amendment that ban abortions. This was a dramatic political event and one that came rather quickly given how conservative Ireland was just a few years ago.

Belly of the beast

Opening Night. Erika Cohn, USA, 2020, documentary, 82 minutes, English

The film follows a young activist and a lawyer that expose the practice of illegal involuntary sterilizations in California’s women’s prison system. With a growing team of investigators inside prison working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes

The festival has changed due to the corona virus, but it’s still here and you should check it out.


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