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Human Rights Arts & Film Festival Launches

16 April 2015 at 11:08 am
Xavier Smerdon
The 2015 Human Rights Arts & Film Festival is about to launch - kicking off in Melbourne in May and delivering one of the biggest programs to date.

Xavier Smerdon | 16 April 2015 at 11:08 am


Human Rights Arts & Film Festival Launches
16 April 2015 at 11:08 am

The 2015 Human Rights Arts & Film Festival is about to launch – kicking off in Melbourne in May and delivering one of the biggest programs to date.

As the festival takes over Federation Square and surrounding CBD galleries from 7 – 21 May, HRAFF 2015 is excited to bring you their biggest program to date.

Check out the full program here.

With 31 feature films, 18 shorts, 15 forums and 5 exhibitions, there's plenty to explore. This year sees the introduction of the inaugural Breakfast Sessions talk series and a new place for discussion post-film at the HRAFF Hub.

The festival will be exploring some of the most pressing human rights issues of our time including violence against women, climate change, refugees and asylum seekers, and art and music for social change.

Get familiar with the line-up of panelists and special guests, featuring international, interstate and local experts in human rights and film. There'll be Australian and Melbourne film premieres, plus double screenings of films I Will Not Be Silenced, Just Eat It and Ivory Tower.

The Festival will open with the Melbourne premiere of Australian documentary I Will Not Be Silenced, which follows the true story of Australian Charlotte Campbell Stephen who, after being raped by a gang of men while living in Kenya in 2006, embarks on a seven year struggle through the frustrating labyrinth of Kenya’s legal system.  

Documentary subject Charlotte Campbell Stephen and director Judy Rymer will be in attendance at the screening, which will be followed by a Q&A.

The Festival will close with the Australian premiere of The Beekeeper, a beautiful human portrait of a remarkable individual, immigrant Ibrahim Gezer, who is able to draw comfort and wisdom from bees. The Festival is excited to welcome director Mano Khalil as a Festival guest.

2014 Sundance Candescent Award-winning Marmato is this year’s Spotlight film. Filmed over six years with stunning cinematography, this emotional documentary follows the residents of the Columbian mountain village of Marmato as they fight to save their identity and 500 years of cultural heritage from a wealthy and powerful global mining company. This film will be followed by a Q&A with director, Mark Grieco, via Skype.

Other program highlights that form part of this year’s strong film line up include Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story, which explores how much food the human species actually wastes and Ivory Tower, an exploratory documentary that addresses concerns for the future of the higher education system with its investigation into the 2014 student debt crisis in America. This issue will be unpacked further with a post-film panel discussion with panelists including Professor Bruce Chapman, economist and designer of HECS.

Drawing attention to a very real and prominent issue, often considered too difficult to address, the Festival will screen Pervert Park, which carefully explores the daily life of residents at Florida Justice Transitions, a halfway home to 120 registered sexual offenders. The screening will be followed by a discussion with feminist and women’s rights activist Clementine Ford and criminal justice advocate Jane Dixon.

This year's visual arts component is exquisite, featuring the world premiere of Indigenous Australian artist Christian Thompson's brand new photographic series. Also featured are Rushdi Anwar’s two incredible installation works Hanging Issues and Irhal (Expel) which seek to explore ideas formed by Anwar’s personal experience. Make sure you take the Visual Arts Walking Tour – a must for art-lovers!

Art and film elements come together with the presentation of an evening of film and street art inspired by the vibrant, energetic and rebellious Cali-cityscapes of Los Hongos. This alternative pop-up screening will take place at Bella Union for an evening set to feature Melbourne’s finest street artists for a discussion on art, anarchy and action that all ultimately drives the films message – express yourself.

Other films in the program that explore activism and the power of art and music to spark social change include Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, which follows world-renowned artist and activist Ai Weiwei during turbulent periods in his ongoing fight for human rights in China; Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll, set in 1960s Cambodia this film reminds us of the power that music can hold for a culture living in the shadow of conflict and fear; Sumé: The Sound of a Revolution, a documentary set in 1973 Greenland that demonstrates the way in which music can truly change cultural identity.

This year HRAFF has expanded its short film program to present an impressive collection of Australian Shorts that together form to take a multi-dimensional look at the spectrum of the Australian experience and two International Shorts packages; one that explores the complexity of human existence and the other exploring themes of innocence and despair.

The CineSeeds program designed to stimulate young minds through film is back and will also expand this year to consist of two films: one for youth audiences 7yrs+ and the other for teenagers 13yrs+. Felix is a coming-of-age story that looks at connection, creativity and music, and Bekas, one for the teenagers, explores the power of cinema as an inspiration to affect change.

HRAFF will once again join with Melbourne Cinémathèque to co-present two films that capture the essence of America at a time of change and upheaval: Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and Bill Morrison’s documentary The Great Flood.

For Canberra, Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane, Perth and Alice Springs HRAFF-lovers, HRAFF on Tour will be returning once again, so we'll see you on the road.

Interstate tour dates and details below:

Canberra 22 – 25 May

Palace Electric Cinema


Sydney 26 – 30 May

Dendy Cinemas


Darwin 30 May – 1 June    

Deckchair Cinema


Brisbane 2 – 4 June

Brisbane Powerhouse


Perth 2 – 4 June

Luna Paradiso


Alice Springs 5 – 7 June

Totem Theatre

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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