XIV Festival Humans Fest: cinema and human rights

In Film & Series 1 June, 2023

Chloé Hasgaard

Chloé Hasgaard


Between 1 and 10 June, the 14th edition of the International Film and Human Rights Festival Humans Fest will be held in Valencia (Spain). This is a project of Fundación por la Justicia, an independent and non-denominational non-profit organization that was born in Valencia in 1994 with the aim of working for the promotion and defense of Justice and Human Rights, both in Spain and in the most disadvantaged countries of Europe, Africa and Latin America. The main activities of the Foundation are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), framed around 4 axes: awareness, social action, training and development cooperation.

Humans Fest puts the Foundation’s objectives into action, creating spaces for training, dialogue and reflection between citizens, activists and film professionals, raising awareness of human rights through film, stimulating knowledge, rapprochement and interaction between different groups, cultures and identities. It also facilitates access to and participation in culture for people in situations of exclusion. Through film, Humans Fest combats stereotypes and discriminatory, sexist, xenophobic and racist attitudes, promoting critical reflection on social inequalities. The work of the festival is an interesting contribution to shaping an audiovisual sector with more diverse views, going beyond the conventional canons.

Humans fest

In its 14th edition, Human Fest focuses its thematic focus on the gender perspective in the defense of human rights, supporting films that identify and question discrimination, inequality and exclusion based on gender, as well as the actions that are undertaken in any part of the world to change and advance in the construction of equality. The selection of fiction and documentary films, in feature and short film format, national and international, the forums open to all citizens, the audiovisual creation workshops, the training talks in educational centers, as well as the activation of different spaces to reach a diverse audience will be the activities that will promote its objectives.

The festival’s honorary award (Pau i Justícia), which recognises the work of those who are committed to human rights and justice through audiovisuals, which in previous editions has gone to Juan Diego Botto, Silvia Munt and Josefina Molina, will be presented on this occasion to the Catalan filmmaker Isabel Coixet, whose gender perspective deconstructs the traditional representation of women in film, committing herself to promoting the work of women in audiovisuals through associations and film production.

The competitive section of the Humans Fest will award a prize for the best fiction feature film, whose jury is made up of Avelina Prat, Laura Herrero Garvín and Elvira Cámara López. The participating films are:

Opal (Alain Bidard, 2021), where in a magical kingdom, the young princess Opal is having trouble staying cheerful and her sadness has a magical power to destroy the whole world. A fable about child abuse explained for girls and boys of all ages that comes to us from Martinique.

The Man Without Guilt (Ivan Gergolet, 2022). In this Slovenian film, Angela works as a nurse in a hospital in Trieste. Her husband dies of asbestos poisoning after years of working for the local company, just as her friend Elena’s husband died. Angela will start an investigation in which the desire for justice and forgiveness are mixed together.

Malikates (Yasmine Benkiran, 2022), a French film that tells the story of the escape of three women who reach the valleys of the Atlas Mountains, pursued by the police. On their way to the Atlantic coast, they weave bonds of sisterhood. A parable of female emancipation in Morocco with echoes of Telma and Louise.

A Room of My Own (Ioseb ‘Soso’ Bliadze, 2022), the impressive Georgian film that made an impact at last year’s festivals, winning eight awards, including the acting prize for the talented Tami Mumladze (co-writer of the film) and Mariam Khundadze at the Karlovy Vary Festival. The film tells the story and the encounter of two women, Tina, who has lost her way in life, and moves into a room in the flat of the vibrant Megi, thanks to whom, little by little, she begins to discover what it feels like to be free and able to make her own decisions.

Los agitadores (Marco Berger, 2022), this Argentinian film reveals the personal limits of a group of friends who, with only male company, spend the Christmas holidays in a luxury villa.

The documentary section, Humans Doc, whose jury is made up of Sara Mansanet, Ricardo Macián and Laura Martínez, programs the films AMA-das (Marga Gutiérrez, 2022), a Spanish production about four women with disabilities who meet in an empowerment workshop to work on their self-esteem, but discover that something profound unites them; in And still I sing (Fazila Amiri, 2022), an Afghan production starring Ariana Sayeed, a pop star and women’s rights activist who mentors young people on a TV talent show, Afghan Star. While two of the singers, Zahra Elham and Sadiqa Madadgar, are on the verge of achieving their dreams, the Taliban regain power.

Ara la llum cau vertical (2022) directed by Efthymia Zymvragaki, is a brave documentary that we were able to see at the Thessaloniki Festival last March, in which Ernesto, who lives in the Canary Islands, acknowledges being a perpetrator of gender violence, contacting the director to talk about his life and discover the darkest corners, the lights and shadows of an aggressor. Old fashion, new life (Can-Zhao Lam, 2023), this Chinese documentary of more than two hours of the footage focuses on a retired woman who becomes a virtual guru who has influenced thousands of women in China, and questions the reason for the popularity of female morality training in the era of feminism and gender equality.

On the other hand, two Latin American documentaries are also programmed: the Mexican film Kenya (Gisela Delgadillo, 2022) brings us the raw and real portrait of Kenya, a trans woman who lives in Mexico City and defends her right to be and that of her companions, as well as the Colombian film Cuando las aguas se juntan (Margarita Martínez, 2022) where we will see that the peace process in Colombia is the first to integrate the gender perspective. In order to overcome armed actors, sexual violence and drug trafficking, they propose a policy centred on the human being, solidarity and love.

A selection of 26 fiction short films will also be screened, the winner of which will be decided by the jury formed by Pilar Martínez, Fran Fernández and Isabelle Mamadou.

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Isabel CoixetHuman RightsHumans FestA Room of My Own

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