24.03.2009 Make a note in your diary – or several


Forget the political crisis and join us at the Sixth International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Kyiv.  The Festival runs from Friday, 27 March to 2 April, with the films being screened both at Kyiv’s House of Cinema and at the Goethe Institute.

This year over 30 films will be screened in Ukraine for the first time.  A professional jury, human rights jury, as well as (for the first time) a student jury will all have the difficult task of choosing the films they found most artistically convincing or thought-provoking and successful in highlighting human rights issues.

During the Festival week well-known documentary filmmakers will be holding master classes and training seminars.  It will be possible to view the films in a special video room.

There will also be a range of human rights focused events generally timed to coincide with the showings of particular films.

Some of the films you can see

Opening the Festival at 19.00 on 27 March is the fascinating film “Please vote for me!” by the Chinese film director Weijun Chen.  The film presents a school, its children and their families in order to examine such issues as whether democracy is a universal value and whether elections inevitably lead to manipulation. Eight-year-olds compete against each other for the position of class monitor, with their teachers and parents egging them on.  “Elections in China take place only within the Communist Party, but recently millions of Chinese voted in their version of Pop Idol. The purpose of Weijun Chen’s experiment is to determine how democracy would be received if it came to China”.  More information is available in English here: .

The film has received a number of awards at well-known festivals, but is, however, banned in China.

The Living 

Saturday, 28 March at 19.30, followed by a meeting with film director Serhiy Bukovsky

“The characters of the film were small children when their parents, deprived of everything, advanced to “the radiant future”. This film tells how they survived the Great Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor) of 1932-33, amid other tragic events in the world: the US economy collapses, Hitler comes to power in Germany, Stalin’s bolshevist government leads war against peasants. British journalist Gareth Jones, whose truthful reports about the Ukrainian tragedy were never heard in the West, guides the viewer on his pilgrimage through the history’s hell. “

More about the Festival is a unique international festival of documentary films on human rights which has been held in Ukraine since 2003.  The Festival uses cinematography in order to present the problems of ordinary people, to promote open dialogue on human rights issues in Ukrainian society, and to affirm human dignity.
The participants of the festival are well known filmmakers from all over the world, as well as young screenwriters and producers from Europe, America, Asia and Africa.
The topics covered range from extreme stories of people living in conditions of war or disaster, to gender equality, discrimination, violation of the rights of the child or of people with disabilities. Particular attention is given to the stories of people who have overcome hardships, and succeeded in protecting their rights.

On the road again

The Festival only begins its path in Kyiv.  It will then begin an eight month tour around Ukraine, visiting cities in all parts of the country.  The films will not only be shown at the cinemas, but in local cinemas, institutes and universities, and art clubs. Viewings are also planned for senior students in schools to develop insight into fundamental human rights issues and human dignity as the cornerstones of a democratic society.

In 2008 over 108 thousand people in 92 cities and villages in Ukraine had a chance to see and discuss these films.

More information about all films and events can be found here:

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