Sonita Alizadeh

Afghani children know her songs by heart.  Sonita Alizadeh screams out against an ancient Afghan tradition in which young girls are sold as a piece of cattle for a couple of thousand dollars. Since ‘Brides for Sale’ (2014), Sonita is a star in Afghanistan. The great success of the documentary Sonita (2015) by Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, adds to the worldwide interest in Sonita’s activist message, being: ‘Girls are no cattle’. Read more about Sonita Alizadeh.

William Binney

Bill - 'A Good American' - Binney had tried to make the National Security Agency adopt a surveillance programme that respected privacy. After leaving the agency disillusioned, he became a public and vocal critic of his former employer. The math genius says the NSA has a ‘data hoarding disorder’. ‘We were subverting our democracy. I couldn’t be a part of that.’ Read more about William Binney. 

Ensaf Haidar

‘Be brave, be bold. History is never made by the faint-hearted,’ says a Saudi women’s rights activist to her audience in an Arab Gulf state. These words summarize the Saudi girl power displayed in the documentary Saudi Arabia: A Wind of Change. One of the voices in the documentary is that of Ensaf Haidar, wife-turned-activist of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. Read more about Ensaf Haider. 

Ye Haiyan

‘A good system is achieved by people’s efforts,’ says Ye Haiyan. The activist, also known as Hooligan Sparrow, considers herself one of the people who will have to change China’s system. She stands up for the rights of women and girls in her homeland – despite the consequences for her freedom. Read more about Ye Haiyan. 

Oleg Khabibrakhmanov

In a society overtaken by fear, the Russian NGO Committee for the Prevention of Torture pledges to continue its work in Chechnya ‘whatever happens’. Oleg Khabibrakhmanov, from the film Chechnya, War Without Trace, is one of the Committee’s specialists on Chechen matters. ‘Ensuring your safety on the territory of the Chechen republic is impossible.’ Read more about Oleg Khabibrakhmanov.

Consuelo Morales

It was Consuelo Morales’s religious calling that landed her in the world of human rights. It was there that she discovered that serving God and serving man go extremely well together. For over twenty years, she has led the human rights organization Cadhac in the Northern Mexican state of Nuevo León. As seen in Kingdom of Shadows, in recent years, she has focused primarily on Mexico’s most serious problem in this area, the over 27,000 desaparecidos (‘missing’). Read more about Consuelo Morales.

Fadimata Walet Oumar

When Muslim extremists took over the north of Mali, they forbade music. For four years Timbuktu was silenced, as musicians were prosecuted for plying their trade. Singer Fadimata Walet Oumar, from the film They Will Have to Kill Us First, sought refuge abroad. But even in exile in Burkina Faso the leader of the band Tartit continued to support the Tuareg women and children in the refugee camps with music and education. ‘To us, music is therapy’. Read more about Fadimata Walet Oumar. 

Eliete Paraguassu

Eliete Paraguassu, from the documentary No Rio e no Mar! is one of the leaders of the local Fisherman’s Union on the Brazilian island of Maré. She dedicates her life to the preservation of the traditional quilombola fishermen’s culture in the Bay of All Saints in the State of Bahia. This black culture is threatened by reckless petrochemical industrial activities. ‘They have no idea how painful the life of a fisherwoman in the mangrove is. Nobody knows how much pain the destruction of the sandbanks causes our communities.’ Read more about Eliete Paraguassu. 

Parvez Sharma

As a gay Muslim, Indian-born filmmaker Parvez Sharma risked his life documenting his pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. His film A Sinner in Mecca is a personal quest to reconcile his faith and his sexuality. ‘I’m no longer worrying about whether Islam will accept me. The question is: can I accept Islam?’ Read more about Parvez Sharma. 

Nicole Tung and Janine di Giovanni

The film 7 Days in Syria follows journalist Janine di Giovanni and photographer Nicole Tung on their trip to the war-torn country in late 2012. It tells compelling stories of everyday Syrians and from the front line, but also a story about journalism and sacrifice. Nicole Tung: ‘I hated that I had to leave Syria.’ Read more about Nicole Tung and Janine di Giovanni.