activists in the spotlight
Author and activist Somaly Mam (1970) grew up in the slums of Cambodia and was sold to a brothel when she was twelve years old. After having been raped and abused for ten years she managed to escape with the help of a development-aid worker. Somaly has never forgotten the girls that were left behind and until today, she defends the interests of children working in the sex industry. The documentary Redlight by Guy Jacobson tells the story of kidnapped children that are sold to brothels and Somaly's efforts to fight this phenomenon.
Shadi Sadr (1974) is an expert in the field of women's rights in Iran. She was director of a counselling centre, which has meanwhile been closed by the government, and introduced a web site demanding equal rights for women. The Iranian authorities arrested her on several occasions. In November 2009, she received the Human Rights Defenders Tulip from the Dutch government. Women in Shroud by Farid Haerinejad exposes the discriminatory legal system in Iran through interviews with Shadi Sadr and convicted women.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a non-violent Palestinian movement that speaks out on behalf of the Palestinian population, against Israel's occupation, and sheds light on human rights violations and the violence perpetrated by the Israeli army. In the documentary To Shoot an Elephant Alberto Arce, political scientist and journalist, shows what happened when the Israeli authorities closed off the Gaza Strip from the outside world for two months.
Lawyer Mandira Sharma (1972), founder of the Advocacy Forum, acts on behalf of victims of the Nepalese civil war, during which both the government and the Maoist insurgents were responsible for human rights violations, leading to the death of more than 13,000 people. Mandira brings civil action against the perpetrators to obtain justice for families that lost a loved one. The film The Sari Soldiers by Julie Bridghem portrays six women who, each in their own way, were involved in the conflict.
Film makers Gustav Hofer & Luca Ragazzi made a film about discrimination against homosexuals in Italy. When in 2006 the Italian government introduces a bill to reinforce the Legal status of gay couples, this stirs a wave of homophobia. In their ironic documentary Suddenly, Last Winter Gustav en Luca try to find out what caused this nation-wide panic, and discover an aspect of Italy they did not know yet.
Activist and former prisoner of conscience Rebiya Kadeer (1947) once was a successful and esteemed businesswoman, until she refused to deny her husband's criticism of China. He already lived in the United States at the time and defended the cause of the Uigur minority. Rebiya lost her status and was finally convicted to eight years in prison for transmitting newspaper articles to the US. The film The 10 Conditions of Love by Jeff Daniels zooms in on Rebiya's life and how she stands up to the oppression of the Uigur minority.
Film maker and former prisoner of conscience Ngawang Choephel (1966) grew up as a Tibetan exile in India. His films and music focus on safeguarding the Tibetan culture. He disappeared back in 1995 after travelling to his home country to do research. A year later his family was told that Ngawang had been sentenced to eighteen years in prison for espionage. Ngawang was released after six years. The documentary Tibet in Song is a tribute to traditional Tibetan folk music and traces fifty years of cultural repression in Chinese-controlled Tibet.
Ever since her son Amine's disappearance back in 1997, Nassera Dutour has dedicated her life to founding a movement for the families of those who disappeared, campaigning for the right to remembrance, truth and justice. Chanson pour Amine tells her story.
Amine is also a member of the "Worldwide network of mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and relatives of victims of abduction and enforced disappearance".
According to official statistics, 6146 Algerians have disappeared suring the civil war after being abducted by members of the security forces
Americans Mike Bonanno en Andy Bichlbaum as 'The Yes Men' pretend to be envoys of different organizations and are invited as guest speakers to lectures and conferences, where they announce ludicrous policy changes or plans. For example, they argue in favour of the return of slavery at a WTO conference. Their statements get wide media coverage. What's more, people attending The Yes Men's public appearances are hardly astonished by what they hear, which makes the documentary The Yes Men Fix the World by Mike Bonanno en Andy Bichlbaume is entertaining and shocking at the same time.
Activist Laura Pollán Toledo (Cuba, 1948) is a member of the Women in White movement. Since the arrest of her husband in 2003, Laura Pollán Toledo faces intimidation by the government, ranging from threats, to slandering by neighbourhood committees, which are the eyes and ears of the state. In 2005, the European Parliament awarded the women the Sakharov peace prize. However, the Cuban government stopped them from receiving the award.
The documentary Women in White by Gry Winther deals with the group of women of the same name that successfully called for the release of those detained. The Women in White symbolize the hope of Cuba's opposition for human rights and freedom of expression.