Cinema without Borders 2017

The 2017 edition of Cinema without Borders was held between 25 and 29 March during the Movies that Matter Festival. Twelve participants, from Ethiopia, Gambia, South Africa, Uganda, Peru, India, Indonesia, Moldova, Montenegro, Myanmar and Nepal, joined in this networking and workshop programme. Participants of both sexes were quite diverse and included activists, journalists and filmmakers. One main thing they had in common: the ambition to organise a film event on human rights.


After the first meetings and attending the festival opening on the 24th of March, the first real workshop day focused on the principles, concept and objectives of setting up a film festival and film programming.

The programme was led by employees of Movies that Matter and two experienced festival organizers from the Czech Republic and Afghanistan. Several colleagues from Movies that Matter were responsible for workshops, as well as some external parties, like Solar World Cinema. The organizers of Human Rights Tattoo also gave a short presentation about their work at festivals worldwide. The workshops took place at different festival locations, in Mercure Hotel and Theater at the Spui in The Hague and Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam.

A workshop on communication and marketing and a presentation on mobile cinema were part of the theme ‘Reaching your Audiences’. Then the practical elaboration of the plans, including production and planning, was discussed. This all took place in the form of assignments, interviews and short presentations. The topics of censorship and safety also came to the fore. Finally, experiences were exchanged about festival evaluation and fundraising. Although all film festivals have their own specific challenges, it was very interesting and inspiring to appreciate how colleagues from other parts of the world deal with these kinds of issues.

The second edition of the handbook "Setting up a human rights film festival, vol.2" formed the substantive basis for the workshop program. All participants received a copy of this book, which was co-edited by Movies that Matter in 2015.


On Tuesday afternoon, March 28, the participants presented their festival plans to the public. Afterwards, they were able to meet relevant guests from the festival, fund, film and / or media sector during a speed date. These guests included filmmakers and representatives from (partner) organizations such as IDFA Bertha Fund, Hivos, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Democracy and Media Foundation. During a cruise on the Amsterdam canals, participants could talk informally, or meet other festival guests, including several human rights activists from all over the world.

Looking back

Our own evaluation showed that Cinema without Borders 2017 was highly appreciated by the participants. The atmosphere was particularly good, and participants found it inspiring to meet fellow organizers from different parts of the world.

Some quotes of participants:

“It was practical, covered a variety of relevant topics and gave enough information that we can follow up on. Also the exchange of ideas and information was very useful.”

“Guest service and practical facilities are all perfect. We all feel like we are well-looked after by a family in The Hague. This is one important thing I learned during our stay. I am taking note to be this nice to our guests too.”