Some people flee their homes for a better life. Others do it for survival. The five films below bring to life the unimaginable savagery and tragedy of life in some parts of the world.
These five are a small selection of those showing at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva, running from 4 to 13 March 2016. Shown at various venues around Geneva, they will take you on a journey into the shocking tragedy of some people’s lives.
The festival, one of International Geneva’s human rights highlights, has run in parallel to the March UN Human Rights Council session since 2003. Some of the films are followed by discussions and presentations. Well-known personalities attending include: Nobel prize winners Shirin Ebadi and Joseph Stiglitz, actrice Juliette Binoche, Julian Assange (by Skype), artist Ai Weiwei, the Pussy Riot, journalist Robert Fisk, as well as Edward Snowden (by Skype).
1. Escape from ISIS
Thousands of women are held captive in ISIS territories. Taken prisoner as the spoil of wars, they are traded or sold as sexual slaves. This film is about a courageous network of undercover volunteers that risk their lives to free captive women and children. Intense and terrifying.
The world is increasingly divided by walls. On either side, human beings. The question isn’t whether their existence is logical or absurd, or if they can be avoided, but that people on both sides are essentially the same. This film follows people living at the foot of a variety of such walls in South Africa, Zimbabwe, the US, Mexico, Spain and Morocco.
3. The Pawn
This film is set in Guatemala where a 14 year-old was kidnapped and raped before fleeing to the US where she overcame her fear of speaking out about her past. Karin’s life changed dramatically when her teenage cousin was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in Guatemala. She decided to become a lawyer. This documentary is about two women fighting to put an end to the impunity that reigns in Guatemala, where a child is kidnapped every day. One woman dedicated to human rights says there is no family that hasn’t been a victim of extortion, kidnapping or murder, and reckons 50% of Guatemalans would leave if they could.
4. Cartel Land
When faced with an impotent and corrupt state, can citizens resort to extrajudicial justice? In Mexico, citizens form a movement in self-defense to fight against the cartels. Meanwhile, paramilitary groups monitors the border in Arizona. Matthew Heineman dives into the heart of two citizen’s movements that take up arms to end the downward spiral of violence. A bold and compelling documentary that won an award at Sundance and was nominated for an Oscar.
5. A Syrian Love Story
20 years ago, Amer and Ragdha met deep down in a Syrian jail. Upon their release, they established a family. In 2009, with the Syrian revolution in full swing, the family decided to flee to France as political refugees and demand political asylum. The revolutionary Ragdha suffers from her inaction, and her relationship with Amer deteriorates. Over the course of 5 years, the camera captures raw images of their exodus.