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Quotes from Human Rights Film Festival.

Between 16 and 25 September, Berlin was the architectural screen of the Human RIghts Film Festival. This year’s program focussed on stories from all parts of the world that vividly address and reflect -through moving-images- on human action, the socio-political status quo and question fundamental issues such as democracy, justice, freedom and environmental protection. By looking at case studies, examining different approaches and discussing storytelling in light of some of the biggest challenges of our time – like the rise of nationalism, worldwide inequality and climate change – HRFF shed light on new approaches and strengthen diverse, excellent forms of storytelling worldwide.

Nested within the 10 days of screenings, The Human Rights Film Forum unfolded its stages for discussion, where international guests and experts could exchange about storytelling in the context of human rights, activism and mutual empowerment. We have followed the plurality of voices which took the stage online and offline and have selected a few quotes from the participants which could open up the gates of reflection on systemic inequalities and methodologies of transformation.


20 September: European Future
On European themes taken up in storytelling, in particular in documentary films, and where artists should dare to take a closer look.

From the panel discussion Missing European Perspectives with: Aslak Holmberg (Vice President Saami Council), Margje de Koning (Director Movies that Matter), Sonia Nandzik-Herman (Founder reFocus Media Labs), Monica Sassatelli (Associate Professor University Bologna) and Jana Sepehr (Editor Human Rights Film Festival Berlin): 

-There are two narratives which shape the European Identity: that of “we are too diverse'' and that which states that “UE identity is based on those diversities.”

-We should share more stories on our identities in order to foster and give significance to the complexity part of the European project.”

-It’s important to understand how people are living in Europe and storytelling can be a way to fill the cultural gaps and engage with people who would be outside of the discourse.


From Keynote: The European Future by Ece Temelkuran:

-Whatever is female is under attack in the world: nature, compassion, care, intimacy are.

-I don't believe in feeling good, but behaving better. 

-There are enough stages for storytelling, the point is there are not enough listeners for female* stories. This is the most important challenge of our Era: To choose who to listen to.

From Inside vs. Outside – Reporting on Belarus with with Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska (Director Watch Docs), Nicholas Connolly (Journalist Deutsche Welle), Lotte Leicht (EU Director Human Rights Watch), Victoria Fedorova (Lawyer) and Anna Ramskogler-Witt (Director Human Rights Film Festival Berlin):

-Changing collective evidence is part of storytelling, for the question of accountability of crimes, to subtract the facts from the criminal manipulation of the state.

-We need to believe in complexity because fascism is the total loss of faith and hope in the human  kind and it works through the polarization between pride and dignity, namely the manipulation of emotions. 


21 September: Storytelling for the Common Good
We want to discuss the potential and challenges of storytelling for the common good and encourage media-makers to take a closer look at this concept. 

From a conversation with Marcus J Gilroy-Ware about Fighting Misinformation for the Common Good:

-As information is associated with powers, the distrust in information is the symptom of distrust in the structures in charge.

-With the internet and social media platforms, knowledge formalization has been blurred. The task of journalists is to to well inform the public navigating and using the blurred as tools.

From Panel Discussion: Constructive Journalism with Jana Sepehr (Editor Human Rights Film Fesitval Berlin), Ellen Heinrichs (Journalistin, Deutsche Welle), Jesse van ‘t Hull (Editor in Chief NATV), Musa Hadid (Bürgermeister von Ramallah), Nazi (Journalist, Khabar Lahariya) and Suman Gupta (Journalist, Jan Morcha):

-Constructive journalism follows three principles:

  1. diversity of perspective in order to stay relevant.

  2. reporting solutions and not just problems.

  3. foster and construct debates, getting some values by seeing more possibility in discourses.

-Nobody can be objective, but we can strive for objectivity in multiple perspectives, a tool which can be used also to diffract polarization.

22 September: Realistic Utopias
In order to broaden our choices, we need utopian ideas and we need to show that these are goals that we can achieve. 

From Keynote: The Transformative Power of Storytelling by Aya Chebbi:

-Millennials reporting on social media and private blogs was a means of correcting mistakes, and a way to respond to frustration with the false coverage and one-sided media representation of Africa. Youngers tried to deconstructing hegemonic narratives, i.e. of the “violent young people”.

-The contemporary way of Reporting needs to shift from breaking news on crisis to long term coverage. An example could be the freedom campaign: it was firstly against the dictator, but then it continued as a campaign as a way to amplify optimism, because something has changed.

From Podiumsdiskussion: The Fight for Equality with Dylan Mathews (Chief Executive Officer, Peace Direct), Antonia Musunga (Feminist), Alejandra Ancheita (Founder & Director of ProDESC), Kathrin Strobel (Program Director Inequalities, Robert Bosch Stiftung):

-An intersection between different forms of inequality shall be organized in a decolonizing aid i.e. youth group campaigned against slavery in Mali.

-The use political agency should be directed to the empowerment of local community, listen to local structures, fight against hierarchy of knowledge, long Term funding instead of project structures


From Podiumsdiskussion: Putting a Halt to Climate Change with Andrew Gilmour (Executive Director, Berghof Foundation), Franziska Heinisch (Aktivistin), Thimali Kodikara (Co-Host Mothers of Invention), Lilli Fuhr (Head of International Environmental Policy Division, Heinrich Böll Stiftung), Margje de Koning (Director Movies that Matters):

-Keynote: boomers and other current generations are the 1st generations to know what to do in terms of Climate Change and also the last to stop the current trends before the tipping points. 

-It is necessary in order to crack capitalism  to build alliances though the politicisation of anger.

-Radical actions for whom? Hope is a privilege of the north but climate crises are a reality in the global south.


23 September: Storytelling and Activism
A look into successful and impactful storytelling
projects, discuss the synergies between activists, artists and media-makers, and develop joint strategies for impactful storytelling to foster human rights.
In cooperation with Ladima Foundation and a Live-Hub from Nigeria.

From Storytelling and Activism with Markus Beeko (Generalsekretär Amnesty International Deutschland), Martina Dase (Kommunikationsdirektorin Save the Children), Thimali Kodikara (Co-Host Mothers of Invention), Uma Mishra (Aktivistin), Adesua Okosun (Filmemacherin), Katja Riemann (Schauspielerin und Regisseurin):

-Stories can reach people outside the activists buble and example could be Moria, where a few young people were taught how to film and whom after a massive disruption, started to report what was happening there.

-It’s fundamental to Include the people whose  story is told about, they must be consensual protagonists!

From Podiumsdiskussion: Art and Human Rights with Wolfgang Kaleck (General Secretary European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights), Murad Subay (Artist & Activist), Sander van Bussel (Founder Human Rights Tattoo), Christian Mäntele (Head of Global Goals Engagement Global), Bikiya Graham Douglas (Schauspielerin und Künstlerin), Anna Ramskogler-Witt (Director Human Rights Film Festival Berlin):

-On of the main points of criticism of human rights movement is that it is  apolitical, but it needs to be systematic, feminist, decolonial, and shall find support in art as an independent and different way of informing beside reposting. 



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