September 29, 2009
Initiated and supported by the Open Society – Georgia Foundation and the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation. Donors include the Open Society Institute, The Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation and the Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia.
The South Caucasus Documentary Film Festival of Peace and Human Rights – “Nationality: Human” is a unique traveling film festival that connects the South Caucasus by screening documentary films concerning reconciliation, conflict resolution, and human rights issues, and later encourages audience discussion on the issues the films expose. The festival annually screens between 10 and 12 award winning documentary films. Over the past two years, the festival has traveled to a total of 51 towns and villages.
The festival seeks to promote the idea of peaceful conflict resolution in the conflict-shaken South Caucasus and aims to broaden the current debate on reconciliation, human rights, and the peaceful settlement of conflicts beyond the immediate intellectual circles within the South Caucasus capital cities. This year, during September, October and November, the festival will reach 26 villages, towns and cities across the South Caucasus (the list of festival dates and places is enclosed at the end of the press release).
The festival annually presents between 10 and 12 award winning documentary films selected by the festival board from a number of films pre-selected with partners from the One World Film Festival in Prague which is one of the largest and most important human rights film festivals in the world. All films are dubbed in Russian and South Caucasus national languages.
Helena Zajicova, festival coordinator, comments on the program: “Audience in all places will be watching the same films. They tell real human stories, in which, very often, we cannot clearly and categorically say that one side or one solution is absolutely correct or not. The films show us the difficulty, as well as the necessity, of patient search for peaceful settlement of human conflict, regardless of scale, whether it be between family members, peoples or countries. The films give the audience in the South Caucasus the possibility to see themselves in the faces of others as the films show parallels to their own situation. The issues the films expose are then being discussed in the follow-up debates.”
One of this year´s highlights will surely include the presentation of Norman McLaren´s animation film Neighbours which won an Academy Award in 1952. Norman McLaren, one of the most influential figures in film animation, made a strong anti-war film with Neighbours, the immediate impulse being the beginning of the Korean War. The festival will present a restored version of the film in cooperation with Cinédoc Paris Films Coop.
The impressive documentary A Working Mom directed by Limor Pinhasov tells a powerful story about a mother who left her two tiny children in Bolivia to seek work overseas and to support her family from abroad. Her story is a real-life family drama that explores the larger global issues of how poverty and family separation is changing in the 21st century.
The inspiring film Pray the Devil Back to Hell chronicles a remarkable story about the great courage of Muslim and Christian women in Liberia, who, regardless of faith, decided to work together to end the country´s bloody civil war. Directed by renowned filmmaker Gini Reticker, the film has received numerous awards including the Best Documentary award at Tribeca Film Festival in New York and was also nominated for an Academy Award.
Another film devoted to civic activism is Egypt: We Are Watching You. Three Egyptian women, unable to sit by while their country is on the brink of drastic change, start a grassroots movement to educate and empower the public by raising awareness on the meaning of democracy. This film is part of a worldwide successful documentary project Why Democracy? which uses film to start a global conversation about democracy.
The complete list of films and the programme of the festival can be viewed on official web-site of Film Festival "Nationality: Human".
“Nationality: Human” works in close cooperation with local organizers from all parts of the region. Members of NGOs, schools, universities, production companies, as well as individuals can submit an application to host the festival. From the applications received, the festival board selects 26 of the most interesting and original proposals.
Selected organizers receive modest financial and organizational support, and participate in a joint workshop that provides them with the know-how to organize such an event. It also provides a unique opportunity for the organizers to meet and exchange experiences with colleagues from other areas in the region. Festival organizers and facilitators in all areas also participate in preparatory seminars.
The festival encourages festival organizers to design their own film festivals and collaborate with colleagues from other areas in the South Caucasus. Organizers select six films for a three-day festival program, which includes time for follow-up discussions, and is often visited by a guest from a different region.