Wednesday, February 18, 2015

12th annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival in Toronto announces lineup

Lineup includes films from established and emerging directors including Joshua Oppenheimer, Wim Wenders, Patricio Henriquez and Hajooj Kuka

TIFF and Human Rights Watch co-present the 12th annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival in Toronto, with a powerful lineup of eight films that recount extraordinary stories of struggle, survival and hope. Showcasing cinema at the forefront of the human rights movement, the festival aims to draw attention to human rights violations worldwide through brave films from countries including Canada, Indonesia, Sudan, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Palestine, Guatemala, the United States and Hungary.

Running from March 24 to April 2 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, the festival kicks off with an opening night fundraising reception followed by the Canadian premiere of The One That Got Away, a documentary chronicling the strength and endurance of the human spirit, and closes with Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story, the inspiring story of an ex-Navy SEAL’s lifelong struggle to find her true identity. Additional highlights include the Toronto premiere of the Academy Award-nominated The Salt of the Earth, a stunning visual odyssey of the world as seen through the eyes of one of the greatest image-makers of the last century, and The Look of Silence, a morally complex, exquisitely crafted work that promises to provoke far-reaching ripples of dialogue. Complete film lineup listed below. All screenings are accompanied by introductions or discussions by filmmakers, Human Rights Watch researchers or film subject experts. Visit for additional guest information leading up to the festival.

“Cinema is a strikingly powerful medium that touches audiences around the world,” said Helga Stephenson, Chair of the Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival. “These empowering stories of survival, resilience and hope inspire and inform the compassion required for individuals on both sides of the lens to make a difference in the fight for human rights. This festival delivers a vital and compelling demand for social change.”

“The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is a crucial series in our programming,” added Magali Simard, Programmer, TIFF. “We strongly feel that film is a key generator of public dialogue, and the films in this festival are of the utmost relevance — artistically and topically.”

.Opening Night Film.
The One That Got Away
dirs. Sam Lawlor and Lindsay Pollock | United Kingdom/Hungary 2013 | 70 min. | PG | Canadian Premiere
In this moving documentary, Holocaust survivor Thomas Beck tells his incredible tale of escape from a Nazi concentration camp, and relates his wistful memories of the girl he met and fell in love with during his imprisonment — whom he suddenly finds himself face-to-face with 70 years later. Tuesday, March 24 at 8 p.m.

The Look of Silence
dir. Joshua Oppenheimer | Denmark/Indonesia/Norway/Finland/United Kingdom 2014 | 98 min. | 14A
Grand Jury Prize, Venice International Film Festival 2014
Toronto International Film Festival 2014
Director Joshua Oppenheimer's follow-up to his extraordinary documentary The Act of Killing focuses on a village optometrist who confronts the former right-wing paramilitaries who murdered his brother during Indonesia's anti-communist purges of the 1960s. Wednesday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m.

Featuring a special video introduction by the filmmaker.

Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd
dir. Patricio Henriquez | Canada 2014 | 98 min. | 14A
This timely documentary chronicles the incredible odyssey of three refugees from China's persecuted Turkic-speaking Muslim minority, who fled to Afghanistan to seek sanctuary and found themselves rounded up and shipped to Guantanamo Bay as part of the United States’ indiscriminate War on Terror. Thursday, March 26 at 6:30 p.m.

Introduction by Michelle Shephard, national security reporter for the Toronto Star.

Beats of the Antonov
dir. Hajooj Kuka | Sudan/South Africa 2014 | 65 min. | PG
Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award, Toronto International Film Festival 2014
Director Hajooj Kuka immerses audiences in the world of the Sudanese farmers, herders and rebels of the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions, who defiantly continue to tend their lands and celebrate their heritage in the face of a government bombing campaign. Friday, March 27 at 6:45 p.m.

With guest speaker Bill Frelick, Director, Refugee Program, Human Rights Watch.

The Salt of the Earth
dirs. Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado | France/Brazil/Italy 2014 | 110 min. | PG | Toronto Premiere
Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize, Festival de Cannes 2014
Master filmmaker Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado collaborated to create this stunning documentary tribute to Salgado’s father Sebastião, the world-renowned Brazilian photographer whose decades spent chronicling some of the darkest corners of the globe led him to a terrible crisis of faith — and a late-life act of rejuvenation. Saturday, March 28 at 7 p.m.

Burden of Peace
dirs. Joey Boink and Sander Wirken | Netherlands/Guatemala/Spain 2014 | 77 min. | 14A | North American Premiere
This intimate documentary follows Guatemala's first female Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz as she fights against her country's legacy of violence and corruption, and marks a historical first when she successfully prosecutes former dictator Efrain Ríos Montt for genocide. Tuesday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m.

With guest speaker Liesl Gerntholtz, Executive Director, Women’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.

The Wanted 18
dirs. Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan | Canada/Palestine/France 2014 | 75 min. | PG
Toronto International Film Festival 2014
Through stop-motion animation, drawings and interviews, this film recreates an astonishing true story from the First Palestinian Intifada: the Israeli army’s pursuit of 18 cows, whose independent milk production on a Palestinian collective farm was declared a threat to the national security of the state of Israel. Wednesday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m.

Closing Night Film.
Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story

dirs. Sandrine Orabona and Mark Herzog | USA 2014 | 90 min. | 14A
This compelling and compassionate documentary chronicles the struggle of decorated ex-Navy SEAL Kristin Beck to live her new life as a transgender woman. Thursday, April 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Introduction and Q&A by Kristin Beck, with guest speaker Graeme Reid, Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program, Human Rights Watch.

Tickets for the Human Rights Watch Film Festival are on sale now. Purchase tickets online at, by phone from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433, or visit the Steve & Rashmi Gupta Box Office in person from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET daily at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West. Regular film screening tickets are $13 each. TIFF prefers Visa.

For more information on the opening night fundraising reception or to purchase tickets for it, contact Human Rights Watch at 416.322.8448or Single tickets are $250, which includes the reception and entrance to the screening.

Social Media:
@TIFF_NET, @hrwfilmfestival

About Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For over 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.

About TIFF
TIFF is a charitable cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $189 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation and RBC. For more information, visit

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