The Human Rights Arts & Film Festival kicked off on Thursday night in Melbourne with the opening film I Will Not Be Silenced. The film was a story of the courage, resilience, and strength of Australian woman Charlotte Campbell-Stephen, who was brutally gang raped in East Kenya in 2006. It follows her search for justice in a futile legislative system. I read the film synopsis before so I was ready with enough tissues for both me and my plus one. By the end we were both emotional but extremely empowered by Charlotte’s strength.
Both of us were rugged up for winter so we decided to walk over to the festival afterparty at one of my favorite bars, Blue Diamond, located on Queen Street. It gave us a chance to talk of the film which had such staying power for us both. The afterparty was sponsored by Xanadu Wines, which were flowing throughout the evening. The venue was abuzz for what the rest of the festival might bring after the resounding opening.
Here are my top five picks for the remainder of the festival, which I hope you enjoy.
- International Shorts 1 – The short film screenings are always my festival favourite. International Shorts 1 is made up of seven films from around the globe. Hotel 22 is the short that I am looking forward to the most. It’s based in San Fran about the route 22 bus, the only 24-hour bus route in town that is used as an overnight shelter for the cities homeless.
- The Ground Beneath Their Feet – With the recent tragedy of the earthquake in Nepal, The Ground Beneath Their Feet is sure to pull on the heartstrings. The film is a documentary about the 2005 quake in Northern Pakistan. It follows two courageous women on the path to rebuilding their lives. I love films that portray the strength and determination of the human race after great tragedy and this one looks to be a great example.
- Ivory Tower – This film looks at the debt crisis faced by U.S. students in Ivy League schools. With skyrocketing tuition, students are left with massive loans to pay with many struggling to find work in today’s tough U.S. job market. This year I have rallied against university fee deregulation out of fear the same could happen here. Really looking forward to this!
- Pervert Park – I always seek out thought-provoking cinema, and this film looks to be quite confronting. Florida Justice Transitions is a halfway home for registered sex offenders and explores the issues relating to their rehabilitation. An uncomfortable yet important topic to be contemplated.
- The Beekeeper (Closing Night) – The Beekeeper follows a Kurdish beekeeper from Turkey as he establishes a new life in Switzerland after events of the decade-long disputes between the Turkish State and the Kurdish Guerilla movement. I think the scenery will be breathtaking, along with a narrative of the enduring human spirit — a film fit to farewell the festival.
The Human Rights Film Festival runs over the next two weeks (Tues. 5 to Thur. 21 May). Let myself & The Plus Ones know which films you see and enjoy by tagging us on Twitter at @SoSpinky and @ThePlusOnesMel.
Brenton Spink is a social Melburnian who loves a good feed, drink, dance, and other related shenanigans. Find him on Twitter at @SoSpinky.