Amnesty International Slovenia

    About award

    The Best Human Rights Film Award is presented by Amnesty International Slovenia.

    Human rights films addressing some of the most critical issues of our world, from the rights of underprivileged women, minorities, labour migrants or political asylum seekers, to environmental concerns and religious fundamentalism. The section also serves as an appeal to present-day mass media which tend to neglect numerous important and meaningful stories due to their ostensible lack of newsworthiness. 

    Nataša Posel
    Director of Amnesty International Slovenia

    2021 DFF’s New Opportunities for Reflecting on the World 

    Art is too elusive, important and complex a subject to permit being reduced to its ‘usefulness’ for human and social progress, advancement of a community and the world. But that does not mean it lacks this dimension. Through their work, many artists seek to thematise societal challenges, bring up questions of justice and injustice, provide a reflection of society, sometimes simply to raise (the right) questions – but not necessarily to offer answers!

    This holds particularly true for documentary filmmakers addressing human rights issues.
    Amnesty International recognises and celebrates this important role of art; in a way, we form alliances with artists in our efforts to make the world a better place. Above all, it is especially valuable how violations of and risks to human rights – in the eyes of an individual often perceived as abstract and distant – are ‘rendered’ real through a documentary film’s narrative. To quote the words of Slovenian director Damjan Kozole commenting on his splendid documentary, The Long Vacation, in 2012: “With this film, I did not want to deal with how many persons were erased. I was not interested in numbers. I didn't even care who was truly responsible for the erasure. I wanted to show the lives of three young people who experienced the birth and growth of this country to their cost.” 

    This year's selection of documentaries comprising the competition section again offers a promising set of opportunities for immersion in highly topical issues – avoiding the social media filter bubbles, fake news and/or clickbaits. 
    Director Alison Kuhn's The Case You deals with the issue of sexual harassment and abuse – a topic that has been generating global interest for several years, stirring public debate also in Slovenia. It is an area of concern that Amnesty International has been actively working on, particularly in making a several years-long effort to amend the penal code in a way to clearly specify that sexual intercourse without consent is rape. It has transpired through our activities that there is widespread misunderstanding about what consent actually means – thus any additional source of clarification and insight into this subject is more than welcome. 

    Thomas Imbach’s Nemesis chronicles the process of pulling down an old freight station, to be replaced by a modern prison with an appertaining police station. The cinematic observation is complemented by testimonies of illegally resident migrants in Germany – who are, if I may be permitted to make an interpretation, as undesirable as this old freight station. While it is difficult to draw a direct comparison between these situations, one cannot but think about the situation with Ljubljana’s Rog: the city authorities proceeded with the disused factory’s demolition in the midst of winter and during the epidemic, allegedly without properly notifying its users – the squatted building had been a place of refuge for people rejected, in one way or another, by the mainstream society, including the abovementioned erased and migrants.   

    Looking at a similarly topical issue, Radu Ciorniciuc’s Acasa, My Home focuses on the intervention of the authorities in the lives of a Roma family to show how the ‘majority’ society often dictates the fate of minorities without considering their experiences and wishes when integrating them.
    In Petite Fille director Sébastien Lifshitz, through the story of Sasha, an assigned male at birth who identifies herself as a girl, relates how society still perceives the issue of gender in black and white. This also holds true for Slovenia: according to a 2019 survey done by TransAkcija Institute, one in three transgender people experienced, on disclosing their gender identity, the severance of friendship (36%) and rejection by parent/parents/foster parent/parents (33%). One tenth (12%) of transgender people stopped receiving financial support from the parent/parents/foster parent/parents. (Available on the TransAkcija website, under Publications: https://transakcija.si.)

    And, last but not least, John Gianvito’s Her Socialist Smile portrays Helen Keller, highlighting her life as a human rights activist despite going blind and deaf as a child. Ms Keller belongs to a long line of human rights defenders that traces its history back to time immemorial. It is important to tell their stories – not only because they are deserving of a tribute (they are!), but also because they give us hope and inspiration at a time when we are becoming acutely aware in our day-to-day lives that our rights need even greater protection.