This year’s film festival explores human’s rights across the globe and how they can be ensured in a sustainable way with the challenges we are facing today

October 12th, 2022
Maria Asklund, News from Berlin

The Human Rights Film Festival is taking place for 10 days from the 13th until the 23rd of October. Documentaries from all over the world will be shown to inspire and strengthen the importance of human rights in people’s consciousness.

Documentary films are undoubtedly an amazing means to discuss topics of importance, such as human rights across the globe. This is the philosophy of Berlin’s Human Rights Film Festival, who are organising film screenings and film forums. During the forums, experts, directors, activists, and civil organisations meet in a unique setting to discuss the different topics.

But why approach human rights on the cultural path? The organisers write: “The key to bravery are stories. Stories have the power to inspire, shake up, question wrongdoings and injustice, and to present solutions”. Storytelling is thus of great importance and plays a great role in the process of creating peace. In addition, it’s vital in creating narratives for societies to remember and commemorate their shared past. One example of a film shown with this theme is “Restitution? Africa’s Fight for its Art”, which picks up the thread of a highly current discussion in Germany with the Benin Bronzes. Additionally, two other films are “Backlash: Misogyny in the Digital Age” and “Duty of Care – the Climate Trials”.

Two important perspectives asked by the organisers are: who gets to tell stories? And how are they told? Throughout this festival, participants will meet a great variety of creators and speakers who each have the chance to tell their very own story and contribute to the great patchwork on human rights. During the forums, speakers are invited to discuss good, encouraging, and meaningful stories. Following this are talks on the motto “Talking Humanity”, where international personalities discuss the big questions of our time. The aim is to create an open dialogue where many perspectives are invited. One topic is “Stolen Art: The Fight of Getting Back African Art”. The talk aims to explore the questions: to whom does art in European museums belong? Why has it not been given back, long after decolonisation? How can international conversation between partners exist on eye-level today? By inviting professors and activists to discuss the topic, participants can get an interesting insight into difficult topics.

The film festival takes places all around Berlin, for example at cinemas such as Babylon Mitte, Villa Elisabeth, and Colosseum. These sites will all be offering a platform where stories can be presented, exchanged, and hopefully inspire the viewers. This is also the meaning of the Human Rights Forum that has been established in addition to the film screenings. The forums will have workshops and conferences. One example of a conference is “Don’t Starve Our Future” and one workshop is titled “Climate Storytelling”. In this sense, we see that topics such as climate and sustainability are woven into the question of human rights.

As part of the festival is an exhibition called “Visions of Reality”, showing instances of violations on human rights around the globe. By displaying this, the exhibition aims to show how people stand up against violations, as well as how artists work with, reflect, and transfer this topic in their work. The core of the exhibition is to show people that each of us can do meaningful work in the fight against injustice worldwide and work towards strong democracy, justice, freedom, and environmental protection. Within cultural diplomacy, these are also values of particular importance. When working with cross-cultural cooperation, emphasis should always be put on human rights and mutual respect.


News from Berlin