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16 January, 2009

Human Rights Film Festival in India

A scene from the film Play the Devil back to Hell, which tells how thousands of Christian and Muslim Liberian women peacefully ended the civil war that had claimed more than 250,000 lives.

India’s premiere Human Rights Film Festival opened in New Delhi yesterday (January 15). It was inaugurated by critically acclaimed actor and social activist Nandita Das.

The festival programme envisages screening of documentary films at the India Habitat Centre and the AllianceFrancaise de Delhi till January 18. The festival will then travel to Mumbai, Banglooru and Kolkata.

The festival features 28 films from more than 20 countries and includes 11 Asia premieres, eight India premieres and one world premiere.

The festival opened with the Asia premiere of Tribeca Film Festival award-winner, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, directed by Gini Reticker, an extraordinary story of a small group of Liberian women who win peace for their shattered country. The film shares this year’s Tri-Continental Jury Award for Best Film with The Sari Soldiers by Julie Bridgham, which showcases the leadership of six women through the Maoist struggle in Nepal.

Other Asia premieres include the riveting film, The Choir, directed by Zimbabwean Michael Davie, about the powerful role of music in surviving South Africa’s largest prison. La Americana documents the human stories behind the current US immigration debate while Up the Yangtze chronicles the contradictions that accompany modernization in contemporary China

The films were selected from more than 150 submissions by a five-member jury comprising Aruna Vasudev (India), Nick Deocampo (The Philippines),Madhusree Dutta (India), Amir Muhammad (Malaysia) and Anurag Kashyap (India).Last year’s Jury Award went to A Jihad for Love by Parvez Sharma.

The Tri Continental Film Festival began in Latin America in 2002, in Africa in2003, and was introduced in India by Breakthrough in 2004. It has become the primary platform for human rights cinema across all three continents, showcasing internationally acclaimed, and award-winning films about social justice issues impacting the global south.

Breakthrough is an innovative, high-impact transnational human rights organization that uses media, popular culture, grassroots training and education to transform attitudes and advance equality, justice, and dignity.
Breakthrough currently works in India and the United States, the world's two largest democracies, on several issues including violence against women, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice, and immigrant rights.
For more on Breakthrough, visit For more on the Festival, go

This report is based on a message from Mallika Dutt , forwarded by Sree Sreenivasan through SAJA FORUM

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