London Human Rights Watch Film Festival is a film event that showcases the most interesting international film productions dealing with human rights-related issues. The festival isn’t only about cinema; it also includes meetings and panels on the most pressing issues.
The Polish production will open this year’s edition. Anna Konik’s documentary Silence Heard Loud will have its world premiere.
A spacious university hall. Seven individuals sitting in a circle and reading excerpts from essays on various global issues. This is the only time we see them together. From the sun-drenched hall, we move to different parts of the city which provide background for their stories. From now on, we follow them separately, without any imposed order. They say where they come from and what they have been trying to escape from. They disclose tragic facts from their lives. The camera shows them from a distance, zooms in on their eyes, exposes emotions or focuses on the body language. Bit by bit, we eventually piece together seven dramatic stories of Angela, Janahan, Merwa, Michael, Mohamed, Nirmala, and Selamawit. They have fled from war, terrorism, ethnic hatred, persecution, or domestic violence. They have escaped death. It seems that they have achieved their goals and may now start a new life in Europe. But is this really the end of their problems and beginning of a new, better life? One of the protagonists, Michael, concludes that he will never have offspring – it would be cruel to bring children to this toxic world. He also stresses that his fate depends on other people, regardless of his own plans and ambitions. The others list their own problems: alienation, racism, loneliness, endless asylum procedures with no permission to work in the meantime, uncertainty about the future, and longing for family and home. So they are faced with self-doubt and begin to question the meaning of life. What comes next – no one knows.
The festival program also includes the new documentary by Kacper Lisowski. Judges Under Pressure tells the story of unwavering judges who defend the Constitution and the separation of powers. One of them is judge Igor Tuleya, who – against external pressure – passes verdicts unfavourable for the government. This makes him enemy number one for the authorities and the face of judicial rebellion for protesting citizens. The film shows the consequences of his uncompromising attitude. We look at the effects political pressure has on his life. At the same time, we are witnessing the extraordinary solidarity shown by both judges and ordinary citizens. Meanwhile the rule of law in Poland is being dismantled in plain sight. Following the ruling of the politicised Constitutional Tribunal on abortion, Poland sees the largest wave of social unrest in its history. Judges take to the streets to stand shoulder to shoulder with citizens in defence of the rule of law.
You can find out more about the festival here.