The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival presents a selection of films, fine art, music and forums that aim to engage, inspire, entertain and encourage people to think about human rights issues in a broader sense.
The festival will open with the highly anticipated documentary Under African Skies (Tue 15 May, 6:30pm, The Forum Theatre) by award winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger. Twenty-five years have passed since Paul Simon broke a UN cultural ban and entered South Africa to make the album Graceland. To mark this anniversary, Simon returns to South Africa to reunite with the Graceland musicians, and clear the air with his greatest critic, Artists Against Apartheid founder Dali Tambo. Jon Shenk’s The Island President will close the Festival on Sunday 27 May, 6:30pm at ACMI Cinemas. This is the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced.
With 15 Australian premieres, other highlights of the 19 film program include: award-winning documentary At Night, They Dance(Thu 17May, 9:00pm, ACMI Cinemas)which sheds light on the chaotic world of Egyptian belly dancers working in downtown Cairo; based on the award-winning comic novel (Paco Roca, 2007), Wrinkles (Fri 18May, 7:00pm, ACMI Cinemas) is an animated feature film about Emilio, who, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, is sent by his son to live in an aged-care facility; Beer is Cheaper Than Therapy (Tue 22 May, 6:30pm, ACMI Cinemas) is a poignant documentary which examines the psychological distress suffered by numerous soldiers, offering a voice to those who are all too often lost in the discourse of war, the veterans themselves; and Australian feature film Fantome Island (Sat 26 May, 6:30pm, ACMI Cinemas) by Sean Gilligan which looks at Joe Eggmolesse, who at the age of seven was taken from his family, put on a train, and sent to a leprosarium on Fantome Island, located off the Queensland coast. Many years later, he returns to confront the memory of his childhood on the island, to pay tribute to those who lived and died there and to inscribe his own unique story into official Australian history.
A number of film screenings will be accompanied by Q&As with special guests present at the screening, including: Joe Eggmolesse from Fantome Island; star Andrew Abel and director Adam Pesce of surf film Splinters (Thu 24 May, 6:15pm, ACMI Cinemas); director of Buffalo Girls (Mon 21 May, 6:30pm, ACMI Cinemas) Todd Kellstein; plus Alex Pagliaro (Refugee Campaign Coordinator, Amnesty International Australia), Julian Burnside and Najeeba Wazefadost (Afghanistan refugee) will participate in a special discussion panel following the screening of Special Flight (Wed 23 May, 6:15pm, ACMI Cinemas).
The film program also houses a selection of eight Australian shorts (Fri 25May, 7:00pm, ACMI Cinemas) including Telegram Man (Dir. James Khehtie) starring Gary Sweet, Jack Thompson and Sigrid Thornton – the film explores the impact of war on a close-knit community and Carmen Rupe(Dir. Lucy Hayes) documents the life and times of a much loved transgendered icon. There is also a selection of international shorts screened as part of the Festival.
MUSIC - Rhythm & Rights
Sun 20 May, 1.30pm–7pm – Abbotsford Convent.
Move your feet, shake your body and feel the beat at HRAFF’s annual Rhythm & Rights event. Tinpan Orange headline a full day of musical entertainment including: Sol Nation, The Hacketts, Alwan Bridgett, Cains Teame, Ersie Wadaiko, Rindo Musiki Manjaro, Leigh Woodburgess, Danny Al Sabbagh with Khaled Khalafalla as MC. Taking over the Abbotsford Convent for one day only, the program consists of an exciting range of performers coming together over their shared commitment to the promotion of human rights culture through musical expression.
Art exhibition -Echoes of Others: Illuminating the gaps amid translation
Thu 17–27 May, 11am–5pm (Tue-Sat) 12pm–5pm (Sun) – No Vacancy, QV Building.
Human rights issues have become increasingly visible, broadcast through a variety of media, whose dissemination of information makes possible greater accessibility and detail. On the other, the inconsistencies of such technological access around the world continue to reinforce the widening gaps that exist between people and places. Whilst communication should be crisp and clear, it is, too often, broken, frozen and distorted, as the process of translation allows for interpretation, re-interpretation and, more often than not, misinterpretation. The work exhibited explores echoes both materially and conceptually, as voices are silenced, images fade and meaning is reconstructed.
Artists: Alexia Germain, Marliène Blain, Louis Philippelèvesque, Anita Belia, Baden Pailthorpe, Brad Haylock, Dinalie Dabarera, The Keiskamma Trust, Lex Randolph, Louise Hunter, Minela Krupic, Nasim Nasr, Sue Kneebone and Veronica Grow.
FORUM -Extreme Reactions to Creative Expression
Sat 19 May, 5pm – ACMI, The Cube. Free Entry
Facilitator Richard Watts (3RRR) along with Ajak Kwai (singer/songwriter), Jeff Daniels (filmmaker) and Khadim Ali (artist) will discuss the cultural politics of extreme governmental responses towards creative expression.
FORUM - Off the Wall: Is Street Art an Appropriate Medium to Voice Human Rights Issues?
Wed 23 May, 5.30pm – Kaleide Theatre, RMIT. Free Entry
Public discourse surrounding street art is dominated by the continuing debate about cultural legitimacy and notions of ownership of public space. Yet, such discussions conceal one of the most important functions of street art, the creative freedom to be powerfully political and socially current. Partake in a lively discussion with facilitator Fiona Hillary along with Lachlan Macdowall (artist), Boo (stencil artist), Tom Civil (graffiti artist) and Kate Shaw.
FORUM -Flights of Fancy: the Ethics of Travel
Sat 26 May, 5pm – ACMI, The Cube. Free Entry
For many Australians, travel has become cheap and accessible. Yet, as the world keeps shrinking, and our mobility increasing, the decisions we make, be it as a high-flyer, a backpacker, or even a volunteer, have consequences on the world around us. Hear what facilitator Jeff Jarvis (International Research Unit Monash), and a panel including Jane Crouch (Intrepid), Andrew Abel (Surfing Assoc. of Papua New Guinea), Adam Pesce (filmmaker) and Dimity Fifer (Australian Volunteers International) have to say.
WHAT: The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival
WHEN: Tuesday 15 – Sunday 27 May 2012
WHERE: The Forum Theatre, ACMI and Abbotsford Convent