human rights 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 Red Light by Guy Jacobson tells the story of kidnapped children that are sold to brothels and Somaly's efforts to fight this phenomenon.
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 shows what happened when the Israeli authorities closed off the Gaza Strip from the outside world for two months.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
Lawyer, human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience
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.
is a leading human rights figure in Kenya. She presided Kenya's National Human Rights Commission (KNCHR), an independent organization that promotes and protects human rights in Kenya. In her documentary Getting Justice Maina explores ways of legal reconciliation after the unfair elections that took place in Kenya in 2007.
Film maker and lawyer Maina Kiai
(1972) leads an investigation on behalf of the victims of the Nepalese civil war, which killed more than 13,000 people. Both the government and the Maoist rebels committed human rights violations during this war. Mandira was the first female lawyer to assist the victims. The film Sari Soldiers by Julie Bridghem follows six women that tried to flee the civil war and how Mandira Sharma helped them.
Lawyer Mandira Sharma
Film makersGustav 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.
(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 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.
Activist and former prisoner of conscience Rebiya Kadeer
was among a group of 75 dissidents that were arrested during the Black Spring in 2003. Raúl was sentenced to twenty years in prison for criticizing the government and their plea for democracy. He was released in 2004 under international pressure. 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 symbolizes the hope of Cuba's opposition for human rights and freedom of expression.
Cuban journalist, poet and former prisoner of conscience Raúl Rivero (1945)
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.
Film maker and former prisoner of conscience Ngawang Choephel (1966)
Americans Mike en Andy 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 by Dan Ollman, Sarah Price and Chris Smith entertaining and shocking at the same time.