The Second Annual New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival presented 35 new films in17 days and eight venues and featured two world premieres, Elections Fever and Four Months and Ten Days: A Journey Through Palestine. The following films from the 2005 festival were chosen for
AUDIENCE AWARD , BEST FILM:
MARDI GRAS, MADE IN CHINA Directed by David Redmond
JURY PRICE , BEST FILM :
SCARED SACRED Directed by Velcrow Ripper.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: OPENING NIGHT FILM:
FOUR MONTHS AND TEN DAYS: A JOURNEY TO PALESTINE Directed by Rebecca Rapp
OFFICIAL SELECTION: CLOSING NIGHT FILM:
SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL: THE JOURNEY OF ROMEO DELAIRE Directed by Peter Raymont
A Luta Continua
(7 minutes) *Presented as part of the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Conference*
A Neo Griot Production by Paulette Richards, A Luta Continua is based on a short personal story of confronting and healing memories of childhood sexual abuse through Capoeira training.
Alive in Limbo
(57 minutes) *Director present at select screenings*
In 1993, the filmmakers met five kids in Lebanon, four Palestinian refugees and one Lebanese boy. In 1999, 2000 and 2002, the filmmakers searched for these same youth as they were entering adulthood. The film is a collaboration by three filmmakers, the Icelandic Hrabba Gunnarsdottir, Tina Naccache from Lebanon and Erica Marcus, an American Jew.
Arna’s Children tells the story of a theatre group that was established by Arna Mer Khamis, an Israeli woman who married a Palestinian. On the West Bank, she opened an alternative education system for children whose regular life was disrupted by the Israeli occupation. The theatre group that she started engaged children from Jenin, helping them to express their everyday frustrations, anger, bitterness and fear. Arna’s son Juliano, director of this film, was also one of the directors of Jenin’s theatre. With his camera, he filmed the children during rehearsal periods from 1989 to 1996. Now, he goes back to see what happened to them. Shifting back and forth in time, the film reveals the tragedy and horror of lives trapped by the circumstances of the Israeli occupation.
The Children We Sacrifice
(61 minutes) *Presented as part of the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Conference*
This moving work by Grace Poore documents incestuous sexual abuse of South Asian girls through the use of survivor accounts, interviews with mental health providers, statistical information, as well as poetry and art.
The Coconut Revolution
This is the modern-day story of a native peoples’ remarkable victory over Western Colonial power. A Pacific island rose up in arms against giant mining corporation Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ) – and won despite amilitary occupation and blockade. When RTZ decided to step up production at the Panguna Mine on the island of Bougainville, they got more than they bargained for. The island’s people had enough of seeing their environment ruined and being treated as pawns by RTZ.
A Death in Sion
In the 1970´s petroleum was discovered beneath the traditional territory of the Achuar people, in a remote part of the Peruvian Amazon. Since then, contamination has profoundly affected communities along the Rio Corrietes basin where much of the population feels abandoned and left to fend for itself. Directed by Adam M. Goldstein in collaboration with the Federation of Native Communities of the Corrientes River.
*US PREMIERE* (15 minutes)
Filmed by the young journalists of the all-female Balata Refugee Camp “Balata Film Collective,” this series of short films document life among refugees in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank during the days leading up to and just after the 2005 elections in Palestine.
Farouk Abdul Muhti: Political Prisoner
The late Farouk Abdel-Muhti came to the U.S. in the late 1970s. A well-known figure in the activist community who has worked hard for the cause of human rights, Farouk was arrested April 26, 2002 by a team of task force officers as a result of a January 2002 Justice Department initiative directing agents to arrest immigrants with outstanding deportation orders, specifically targeting those from the Middle East and Pakistan. Though not charged with terrorism or any crime, he was being held on the basis of a 1995 deportation order. Here, Farouk tells his own story from Passaic County Jail, and speaks out against the injustices inflicted on Muslim immigrants since 9/11. Directed by Konrad Aderer.
Four Months and Ten Days: A Journey Through Palestine
*World Premiere Screening* (55 minutes)
Directed by New Orleans-based designer and filmmaker Rebecca Rapp, this film documents her stunning and powerful experience of living for four months in a Palestinian refugee camp during 2004, as part of the New Orleans Human Rights Delegation.
Hold it Together
(7 minutes) *Presented as part of the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Conference*
by Orchid Pusey
(91 minutes) ***CANCELLED***
Twelve year old N’dala is brought to the capital of Angola, Luanda, by well-meaning nuns. Carrying a canvas bag and his wire toy, the boy is the sole survivor of a family senselessly slaughtered in the country’s civil war. Wanting to discover the big city, N’Dala ventures through the dusty, battered streets where he meets a host of individuals including the irreverent Zé, a gentle fisherman, and the shady Joka. As the first thrills of the city fade, along with N’Dala’s innocence, he yearns to return to the simple life he left behind, but finds it increasingly difficult to extricate himself. Hollow City is a hauntingly powerful sketch of the forgotten casualties of Angola’s political landscape. It offers a clear, unsentimental look at survival in the relative haven of Luanda.
Immokalee: From Slavery to Freedom
Film about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). The CIW is a community-based worker organization. Their members are largely Latino, Haitian, and Mayan Indian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida, especially in the farm worker community of Immokalee. Over the past several years, Immokalee has evolved from being one of the poorest, most politically powerless communities in the country to become today a new and important public presence with forceful, committed leadership directly from the base of their community — young, immigrant workers forging a future of livable wages and modern labor relations in Florida’s fields.
Lord’s Song in a Strange Land
From Bugs Bunny and Indiana Jones to Fox News and beyond, this fast-paced collage of film and video clips traces the American bias that has cast the Middle East as an uncivilized wasteland and its diverse populations as savage hordes awaiting the taming influence of the American way. The historical range and astonishing volume of the clips inspire a horror of their own, while the filmmaker’s relentlessly black sense of humor and pitiless eye for blatant propaganda and expansionist rhetoric contribute to bringing into focus the media’s role in reinforcing prejudiced views on Iraq, Arabs, Palestine, and Israel. Beta SP video.
Maangamizi, a powerful Swahili word which translates into ‘destroyer’ is the unseen force which binds two women, an African American physician and her African patient in a tense and psychological relationship. Maangamizi guides them on a spiritual and emotional journey which culminates on the slopes of the ancient and dormant volcano of Mt. Meru overlooking the Kilimanjaro plains. In their confrontation with their individual and collective pasts, Dr. Asira and Samehe are bound by fears and half-remembered images of unbearable pain. Only through the spirit of Maangamizi can the women resume their lives with an understanding of the ancestors and their eternal presence even in a world of cruelty, hatred and death.
Filmed in 35mm on location in East Africa and featuring a hypnotic score by Grammy Award winner Cyril Neville, Maangamizi presents a compelling cinematic vision of a single world and a single mankind.
Mardi Gras: Made in China
A story of globalization told through humor, hope, and violence; from a bead manufacturer in China to Carnival revelers in New Orleans.
Meen Erhabe (Who’s the Terrorist)
Directed by Jacqueline Salloum, Meen Erhabe is a music video for a song by Palestinian hip hop group Dam (Blood).
(74 minutes) *Presented as part of the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Conference* *director will be present at screening*
NO! Explores the intra-racial rape of Black women and girls in the United States. Director Aishah Shahidah Simmons will speak after the screening of her work and field questions.
North Korea: Beyond the DMZ
This new film follows a young Korean American to see her relatives in north Korea, offering a rare look at a country that is continually demonized in U.S. mainstream media.
Persons of Interest
(63 minutes) *cosponsored by the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana*
After the September 11th terrorist attacks, more than 5,000 Arab or Muslim immigrants were taken into custody by the U.S. Justice Department and held indefinitely on the grounds of national security. Detainees were subject to arbitrary arrest, secret detention, solitary confinement and deportation. Most were held on minor immigration charges and were frequently denied legal representation and communication with their families. The Justice Department has ensured the invisibility of these cases, by refusing to disclose the names and total number of people detained. Set in a bare room that functions variously as interrogation room, prison cell and home, Persons of Interest consists of a series of intimate encounters with twelve detainees and family members. Detainees share their stories, show photographs, read letters written in jail, re-enact their prison experience… even sing.
Persons of Interest is a unique, compelling film that gives voice to the human cost of the U.S. government’s anti-terrorism campaign.
Qalqilya: Where Are We Going
A highly informative story of one Rhode Island woman’s travels to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Directed by Bobbie Louton.
(12 minutes) *Presented as part of the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Conference*
A film by Proshat Shekarloo. The narrative of this short was taken from excerpts of the filmmaker’s journal in which she confronts her past abuse by her father. The film struggles with disclosing violence in the home, while men from that community are being targeted by the US government.
In a world teetering on the edge of self-destruction, award-winning filmmaker Velcrow Ripper sets out on a unique pilgrimage. Visiting the ‘Ground Zeros’ of the planet, he asks if it’s possible to find hope in the darkest moments of human history. Ripper travels to the minefields of Cambodia; war-torn Afghanistan; the toxic wasteland of Bhopal; post-9/11 New York; Bosnia; Hiroshima; Israel and Palestine. This unflinching documentary captures his five-year odyssey to discover if humanity can transform the ‘scared‘ into the ‘sacred’. Confronting horror and heartbreak around the world, Ripper meets those who have suffered first-hand. And in each place, he unearths unforgettable stories of survival, ritual, resilience and recovery.
ScaredSacred brings together these powerful stories and more, deftly weaving together haunting and luminous footage with words, memories, and an evocative soundscape. Featuring an engaging, first-person narrative, this film is an exquisite portrait of a search for meaning in times of turmoil.
Secret Hebron: the School Run
This video reveals the plight of young Palestinian children in the West Bank city of Hebron. The children are kept under curfew for months at a time, making it impossible for them to travel on the ‘Israeli only’ streets to get to school. The youngsters are shown scrabbling across the roofs of buildings in an effort to avoid the soldiers below. Using a hidden camera, filmmaker Donna Baillie also records the dangerous confrontations between the children and armed soldiers determined to stop them. Directed by Donna Baillie.
Señorita Extraviada (Missing Young Woman)
(74 minutes) *Presented as part of the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Conference*
Señorita Extraviada tells the story of more than 300 kidnapped, raped, and murdered young women of Juarez, Mexico. Directed by Lourdes Portilla.
Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire
(90 minutes) *cosponsored by the Ashe Cultural Arts Center*
In 1994, approximately eight hundred thousand people were brutally slaughtered in Rwanda. Most belonged to the Tutsi tribe, though many of the victims were moderate Hutus who refused to participate in the genocide. The horrific nature of this event was exacerbated by the outside world’s indifference. As embassies were swiftly evacuated and multinational companies pulled up stakes, the only international presence left (and the only possible sanctuary) was a small United Nations force – but it was hamstrung by that organization’s inability or refusal to act.
Their leader was Canadian Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, who – despite suggestions that he depart as well – insisted on staying. After nearly a decade of silence, Dallaire recently addressed the events he witnessed in his book “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.” In early 2004, he returned to Rwanda for the first time since the genocide. That visit is the subject of acclaimed filmmaker Peter Raymont’s powerful documentary, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire. Raymont interviews a string of diplomats and witnesses, including UN Special Envoy Stephen Lewis and BBC reporter Mark Doyle; the latter offers one of the most telling indictments when he says that news networks were more concerned about the O.J. Simpson case than genocide in Africa. Shake Hands with the Devil is a study of one of the most horrifying incidents in recent memory, but it’s also a portrait of heroism.
Slingshot Hip Hop: The Palestinian Lyrical Front
*Preview* (6 minutes)
Preview of a new documentary about hip-hop artists in occupied Palestine. Directed by Jaqueline Salloum, director of three videos in last year’s festival.
Stolen Childhoods is told primarily in the words of laboring children, who live on four different continents across the globe, but who share a common fate. Shot in 7 countries; Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal and the United States, children are shown working in dumps, quarries, brick kilns, making charcoal, on fishing platforms, picking tobacco, coffee or vegetables, working in sweatshops, as domestics, making rugs, and selling their bodies on the street. Stolen Childhoods provides an understanding of the causes of child labor, what it costs the global community, how it contributes to global insecurity and what it will take to eliminate it.
System Failure: Violence, Abuse, and Neglect in the California Youth Authority
*director present at select screenings* (32 minutes)
This video exposes the horrific conditions and human rights violations endemic of the California Youth Authority, one of the largest youth correctional agencies in the United States. 2004.
(7 minutes) *Presented as part of the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Conference. Director Paulette Richards will introduce her film*
A short film about gentrification in New Orleans that documents the destruction of a tennis court at the intersection of Race and Annunciation Streets across from the former St. Thomas housing project. The title refers to the colonial doctrine that “un-populated” or “un-improved” lands could be appropriated by the first [European] power that “discovered” them.
In the wake of Argentina’s spectacular economic collapse in 2001, Latin America’s most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walk into their idle factory, roll out sleeping mats and refuse to leave. All they want is to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act -the take- has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head.
Director/producer Avi Lewis and writer/producer and renowned author Naomi Klein (No Logo) take viewers inside the lives of ordinary visionaries, as they reclaim their work, their dignity and their democracy.
A documentary about drag and radical gender identity. Directed by Hellery Homosex and Freddie Fagula, Third Antenna documents gender-bending drag performances and explores everything from physical disabilities to issues of race within the drag community.
The Underground Railroad in Mexico
The Underground Railroad in Mexico documents stories of those of African descent in Mexico. It is based on a series of ‘story circles’ where participants sat together in their community and told stories about being of African heritage in Mexico. In addition the video shows dances and other cultural aspects of daily life pointing toward what some call an Afro-Mestizo culture among almost 300 communities on the Mexican Pacific coast. The filmmaker’s work in discovering and dialoguing with black folk in Mexico is the beginning of a project to build an international dialogue among those of African descent in the Americas.
Filmmaker’s statement: “We know our movement must be global to fight a global enemy. The modern system of oppression and exploitation led by the U.S. can only be met with an international anti-racist movement. Our goal is that both Latinos and African Americans can come to see ourselves in each other. We are calling for a family reunion. It is in this spirit that we have produced this video.”
Produced by the Colorline Project 20 MINUTES.
What Happened to the dream? The American Dream
*Director Mahdy Maaweel will be present at screening*
A film about the Somali-American communities’ experience living in the US after September 11.
Women In Struggle
(58 minutes) *Presented as part of the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Conference*
Directed by Buthina Canaan Khoury, Women in Struggle is about Palestinian women who are ex-political detainees; their struggle during their years of imprisonment in Israeli jails; and exploring the effects and influence on their present life and their future outlook. The film focuses on the lives of four women who came out of their regular roles as sisters, mothers, wives, and took on a different role; being involved in the Palestinian national struggle for independence. Without narration, these women give their testimony in their own words about their past difficult experiences, of their suffering while living their daily difficult life in the current Palestinian Intifada. The Intifada was not yet happening during the initial research of this documentary nor was the so called “war on terror” and the construction of the Apartheid wall. Yet these three elements have made this film critical in exploring, identifying, and understanding how these women detainees made the effort to preserve their dignity and integrate in the social and political aspects of the Palestinian life. Although these four women are out of the actual Israeli prison they actually find themselves in a bigger prison carrying “prison” within them in every aspect of their life. Directed by Buthina Canaan Khoury.