UNSPOKEN Human Rights Film Festival
October 27-29 2016
2016 Film Guide
Thousands of people were forced to leave their families during the Korean War and have since been unable to return home. This documentary recounts the experiences of 160 people in South Korea who left their family members in North Korea 70 years ago. It uncovers the political and emotional complexity of the relationship between South Korea and North Korea with a focus on the family reunion event held in 2015. The last promise, “I’ll be home,” is yet to be fulfilled.
Director: Martha Gorzycki
Runtime: 11 minutes
For Karen people of Burma, it seems that no one hears their pleas for help as their country remains ravaged by a war that has lasted more than six decades. This documentary records the raw memories and emotions of the Karen interviewees as they share their stories. With over 10,000 photos, this film artistically animates a landscape of memory over which Voices from Kaw Thoo Lei may be heard.
Gods behind Mountains tells the story of an indigenous boy from Papua, New Guinea, Matheo, whose fellow villagers have raised funds to send him to school in a city far away. There, he learns of topics that his people do not know about: politics, economics, and English. Matheo is a member of the Yali tribe, who live in the mountains of the country. After five years of school, Matheo returns to his home village. His path leads us into the heart of the country, as we follow his struggle for freedom, which has run throughout the nation for more than 50 years. After the Dutch colonial power had to leave the country, the Indonesian government took over the west part of the island of New Guinea – West Papua. The people had almost no chance to decide freely what they wanted and until this day the indigenous people are struggling for independence.
The Black Zone is a decade long journey following workers from a covert and daring medical relief program as they struggle to provide aid amidst war atrocities inside the jungles of Burma. During the 1960s, the Burmese military regime began a scorched earth campaign against the Karen ethnic minority, which Human Rights Watch called “a campaign of ethnic cleansing.” Along with perpetrating rapes, killings and other war crimes, they barred relief agencies from the conflict zone, pushing the population to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.With a little improvisation, a lot of organization, and some assistance from Western physicians, the Karen began training mobile backpack medics to provide the only medical care for their war-weary people. This film follows these backpack medics from training to their work in “the black zone.” This film contains mature content and graphic images.
Limpiadores captures the lives and struggles of the invisible migrant workers that make sure offices and classrooms are clean before professors and students arrive for their morning classes. Many Latin Americans migrate to the United Kingdom in search of work opportunities, a safe environment, and educational opportunities for their children in place of social and political instability of their home countries. However, they face discrimination, labour exploitation, and social “invisibility.” This documentary follows three of such workers in their daily lives of working in some of the most renowned higher education institutions in London.
This documentary follows the journey of Willie Baronet who has been fascinated for many years by the signs that the homeless hold. His artistic eye and agency background sees more than a plea in these signs -he sees art, life and humanity. The film documents his month-long drive across the country, all the while buying signs from the homeless individuals he meets along the way. His conversations and interviews that begin with “Sir, would you sell me your sign?” bring the audience to face the cross-section of America. The film documents Willie’s journey to discover the answer to: “What does home mean to you?”
Director: Chris Newberry
Runtime: 96 minutes
Trailer: Watch Here
This documentary zooms in on the lives of three refugees who now call America home. At the center of it all is a remarkable health clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota, which serves as a crossroad for these embattled refugees and their devoted doctors. We get a glimpse of the remarkable lives of Thor Lem, a former political prisoner from Cambodia; Patrick Junior, a member of an oppressed ethnic minority in Burma; and Alex Gliptis, an Ethiopian refugee suffering from PTSD, diabetes and HIV. The health care challenges they face are daunting, made more complicated by the trauma they carry from the past.
Thousands of migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea daily to flee wars. While governments are criminalizing migratory fluxes, people are getting organized to save the shipwrecked on the sea or prosecute states for having failed to provide assistance to people in danger. All of these individuals, moved by determination and courage, are actively offering an alternative to general indifference. Among them is Charles Heller, a founding member of Watch the Med platform which documents the disappeared-at-sea migrants and the AlarmPhone, an emergency phone line for boats in distress. The film highlights the daily fight of Charles Heller and six others on land and at sea to protect those in danger in light of current tragedies.
For more than 200 years, the Crimean Tatars struggled to free their native land, the Crimean Peninsula, from Russian domination. They’ve suffered ethnic and religious persecution, including a Soviet genocide that saw their entire population deported from Crimea to Central Asia in 1944. By 2014, many believed that their long battle was finally coming to an end until Russia re-annexed the peninsula. This film features interviews with Crimean residents, activists, historians, and the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, Mustafa Dzhemilev, as well as the Russian Prime Minister of Crimea, Servey Aksyonov. This is a story of Crimean Tatars not willing to give up their fight for freedom despite all that they have faced.
This five act performance documentary tells the stories of five brave women who break the silence and share their experiences and their struggles to heal after being sexually assaulted. The exact words of the survivors are spoken by actors in order to protect the survivors’ identities. Their stories, along with experts’ insights, expose myths underlying rape culture, including those that blame the victims for their being assaulted. The film highlights the efforts to fight such rape culture from our society.
The Pearl of Africa captures an intimate struggle for the right to love. Following the story of Cleopatra Kambugu, a 28 year old Ugandan transgender woman, the film captures an emotional journey of love, hate and being transgender in one of the world’s most transphobic places, once called The Pearl of Africa for its diversity. Cleo and her fiancé Nelson were forced to flee Uganda with the passing of “antihomosexuality-law,” which criminalized anyone associated with LGBTI-people. Cleo then goes through sex reassignment surgery and continues to try to change her gender documents in Uganda. This documentary captures a first-hand testament that love conquers all as the couple goes through their most difficult time. This film contains mature content.
What happens when you are condemned to death row and spend over 18 or 30 years of your life locked away; often not knowing how long you will be alive? Approximately 300 people have been released from death row since DNA evidence has come into play. Tina Gharavi documents the emotions of those who have been released as they come to terms with what has happened in their lives. The film weaves a variety of narratives to understand a complex issue at the extreme of human experience. Using documentary voices of the exonerees, interviews, archival footage and experimental drama, the documentary explores a topic few have considered.
This documentary follows newly arrived students at the International Rescue Committee’s New York based ‘boot camp’ for children seeking asylum from some of the world’s most volatile conflicts. Culled from 80 hours of footage and animated with the kids’ own artwork illustrating their stories of escape and dislocation, the film humanizes a number of international crises, including the aftermath of war in Iraq, unrest in Egypt, the struggles of Tibetans, turmoil in West Africa and the unreported exile of ethnic Nepali-Bhutanese. Refugee Kids presents a moving account of the students’ stories of escaping violence and resettling in America, chronicling their triumphs and setbacks over the course of one formative summer. This film contains drawings of violence.
Director: Lawen Mohtadi and Gellert Tamas
Runtime: 94 min
This documentary honors 1960’s and the 70’s Roma activist and writer Katarina Taikon. Katarina was an activist for human rights, who fought for the rights of people who were excluded from the politics and progress in the rest of the society. She was a woman that privileged people had no choice but to listen to. She was charismatic, intelligent, and fearless. This film reveals the different sides of the Swedish society in Katarina’s time and deals with questions that concern us all in our present time – human rights, migration and discrimination.
Women Are The Answer
Population growth has been left out of the climate change debate because it is considered controversial, yet it is one of the most important factors. As the global population has passed the 7 billion mark, and India is taking over from China as the most populous nation in the world, one state in southern India has found the solution: Kerala educates its women. The unique history of Kerala and ‘the Kerala Model’ is outlined, using it as an example of achieving population control in developing countries without coercion. Many young women from Kerala, as well as experts, give insights into the development of state and the benefits of educating women.