Bravely bearing witness to human rights violations worldwide, the documentary and fiction features at the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival tell extraordinary stories of struggle, survival, and hope. The festival presents documentary feature films from Afghanistan, Canada, China, Egypt, France, the United States, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Syria, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

This special lineup of eight documentaries examines and uncovers the social injustices and human atrocities taking place around the world. Toronto is the only Canadian chapter of this global organization, which hosts similar festivals (with different lineups) in cities like New York, London and Geneva, so it’s a special opportunity for local audiences to experience such a thoughtfully curated lineup of films on pressing world issues.

A few highlights include:

No Dress Code Required – Love trumps hate in this moving look at how marriage equality in Mexico resonates around the world. Canadian Premiere International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2016 Victor and Fernando are stylists in Mexicali, Mexico who are the go-to professionals for the city’s socialites. To their customers, they were a lovely couple — until they decided to legally marry. Losing the support of customers and friends and confronting a backlash of criticism, through their fight they woke up members of Mexicali’s society to fight homophobia and inequality. Wednesday, April 5 at 6 p.m. Introduction by Kyle Knight, Researcher, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program, Human Rights Watch.  dir. Cristina Herrera Borquez | Mexico 2016 | 92 min. | PG | 

Tickling Giants – filmmaker Sara Taksler (producer at The Daily Show) follows Baseem Youssef’s (The Egyptian Jon Stewart) fight for freedom of speech against the regime of his government. Ben Makuch, VICE news reporter, will host a Q&A with the director.

Complicit – shines a disillusioning light on the human cost of electronics manufactured in China and provides a much needed call to action.

Black Code –Toronto-based documentary filmmaker and cinematographer Nicholas de Pencier (Watermark) examines the complex global impact that the internet has had on matters of free speech, privacy and activism. Ron Deibert (author of Black Code, and director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs) will join the filmmaker for a Q&A.

A full listening of all films being screened can be found here

Human Rights Watch Film Festival, running March 29 to April 6, 2017 at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St W, Toronto)

 

 

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.