Investigate, expose and change at the London Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Logo for the Human Rights Film Festival

Logo for the Human Rights Film Festival. Image: HRWFF

Investigate, expose, change. These three words are at the core of Human Rights Watch and the heart of the 24th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival (HRWFF) running from 12th to 20th March 2020.

This edition of London Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be presented at the Barbican, Regent Street Cinema, and Curzon Soho.

It will feature empowering documentaries and dramas which celebrate courageous people from 14 countries: Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Guatemala, Germany, Iran, Macedonia, Mexico, Peru, Romania, the United States, and Vietnam.

The majority of the films at this year’s festival are directed by women.

Importantly, productions are showcased that are often marginalised in the mainstream film industry, ensuring they have a platform for their voices can be heard.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with directors, actors, and human rights activists.

This enables in depth discussion of the issues raised by the films.

Human Rights Watch has been seeking to protect human rights for forty years by practicing what they describe as:

a powerful, proven methodology: investigate abuses scrupulously, expose the facts widely, and relentlessly press those in power for change that respects rights.

As part of this continued mission, they screen films in over 20 cities around the world and they have showcased over 720 films in their festivals.

The Festival, which has been running for 30 years in New York and 24 years in London, seeks to expose human rights violations through screen story telling.

Festival organisers say they hope to mobilise public opinion because ‘everyone can make a difference.’

The festival will open at the Barbican with Alexander Nanau’s powerful documentary, Collective.

‘Collective’ focuses on journalists at the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor.

They uncovered a massive health-care fraud after a fire in the Club Colectiv in Bucharest in 2015.

The film strives to demonstrate the importance of a free press to expose corruption and protect democratic values.

Still from the film ‘Collective’. Image: HRWFF

Audiences will also be able to watch festival films online through its partnership with MUBI at:

Reporting by Emily Naylor, Hailey Choi, Michela Mancini.

Unfortunately the COVID-19 emergency resulted in the cancellation of this festival for the year 2020.

The festival team released the following statement:

We know this news will be hugely disappointing to many, not only to our audiences who have come to join our events for the last 24 years, but also to the exceptional filmmakers and committed activists whose talents we had hoped to showcase. This will also be a blow to the London arts community, including the cinemas, theaters and performing arts venues who champion freedom of speech and help artists, filmmakers and the public at large to make their voices heard.

While we are heartbroken to miss this chance to connect our London audience with the powerful stories of filmmakers and change makers from around the world, we must do all we can to keep our communities safe.

As things have evolved so quickly, we will come back to the public with our plans to share these films with our audience in the future.

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