Posted by Margaret Lowry on June 13, 2014 in Blog

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival opened yesterday at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the IFC Center in New York City. With their festival, Human Rights Watch aims to bring to light human rights violations through film while creating a forum for discussion and exploration of these issues. This year, the festival is featuring several films that explore human rights situations in the Middle East in North Africa – including films produced in Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine, and Yemen. The festival is sharing these compelling documentary films with the public in hopes of galvanizing audiences to educate themselves about the region’s culture and the human rights situation that impact its inhabitants. The following films are a selection of the festival’s program that is focusing on Armed Conflict and the Arab Spring:


Abounaddara: Collective Shorts from Syria + Panel Discussion on 'Emergency Cinema'

Abounaddara is a collective of filmmakers working towards providing an alternative image of Syrian society. It was founded in 2010 in opposition to the prevailing representations of Syria found in the Western media. Working in a state of emergency, they present ordinary men and women, who are not heroes or victims, political opponents or loyalists. The films show the counter-shot to the armed conflicts that have been the media's main focal point thus far. Find out more


First to Fall + Q&A
Presented in association with Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and Tribeca Film Institute

Hamid and Tarek leave their lives as students in Canada and travel to Libya, their homeland, to join the fight to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. First to Fall is an intimate story of friendship, sacrifice, and the madness of war. It bears witness to the irreversible transformation of two friends, and the price they pay for their convictions.




The Mulberry House + Q&A
Presented in association with Alwan for the Arts

After 10 years in Scotland, Sara Ishaq travels back to her childhood home of Yemen and takes her camera along. She hopes to feel at home in the place that was once so close to her heart, but the complications soon become clear. Outside the gates of her family home, people are protesting against President Ali Abdullah Saleh's authoritarian rule, and Ishaq and her family quickly become caught up in the movement. Find out more



Return to Homs + Q&A 
Presented in association with Alwan for the Arts

Filmed between August 2011 and August 2013, Return to Homs is a remarkably intimate portrait of a group of young revolutionaries in the city of Homs in western Syria. They dream of their country being free from President Bashar al-Assad and fight for justice through peaceful demonstrations. World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Documentary, Sundance Film Festival 2014. Find out more.





You can find a full program of the festival here.