Human rights jury of the Human Rights Documentary Film Festival “Ukrainian Context” has a lot to consider


This intense festival, with over a hundred films on human rights issues, is drawing to a close as the country is gripped by intense emotions of a different or perhaps not so very different nature.

The human rights jury, with representatives from the Belarus Helsinki Committee, the Moscow Helsinki Group and Ukrainian human rights organizations, has a specific task, this being to assess the films from the point of view of their contribution to the cause of human rights.  Any such choices are always difficult, especially when there are so many thought-provoking and hard-hitting films on various topics from a wide range of countries. Having arrived at a shortlist (relatively speaking …) of 16 films, the jury has understandably enough taken time for consideration and will announce their verdict at the formal closing of the Festival on 5 April.

About some of the films (with no attempt intended to influence the jury!)

On Tuesday viewers had a chance to see Taras Tomenko’s film “Lisa” which won Silver Prize at the 2006 Berlin Festival.

Lisa lives on Maidan [the central square in Kyiv] and tells stories to everybody – about her father whom she has never in fact seen, about her mother who supposedly loves her very much and suffers from other people’s brutality. Lisa, like all street kids, doesn’t believe or trust anybody, which is the reason she lies all the time.

This film was of landmark importance for a number of reasons, not least for the way it demonstrated that documentary human rights films do not only present human rights problems, but can help make real steps towards resolving them. By taking part in the filming, Lisa was able to find a family and is now living in a family type children’s home. She is at school, having music lessons and learning English. Her new parents are wonderful educators and she has new brothers and sisters. She really has found people who want and need her.  

On Saturday the Festival began with a question: was it possible to return to the days of “temnyky” [the “instructions” to the press on what (not) to cover and how, which the Orange Revolution hopefully put an end to] and censorship in Ukraine? The question was addressed in a hard-hitting film by Ihor Chaika called “Solo for the media”. 

One of two films – from Russia and India – on privacy was followed by a meeting and discussion with a doctor and human rights defender from Vinntysa who last year won an important victory for human rights in Ukraine against four State departments, - no mean feat.

Sunday 1 April was dedicated to films from Belarus, as well as a chance to meet a human rights defender from Luhansk who had just returned from taking part in the protest actions “For freedom” on 25 March in Minsk.

And for those who like to believe that facts are facts, even in the media, the film by Marcel Lozynski “How it’s done” could open their eyes to what is true, and what a figment of media technology, forcing us to believe what (somebody deems) it’s necessary for us to think.  The film by a master of Polish documentaries will be shown at the KMA Cinema Club on 5 April at 18.30.


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