Australia’s first ever Human Rights Arts and Film Festival is the brainchild
of Evelyn Tadros and Naziath Mantoo, who saw a pressing need to establish a
platform to discuss human rights issues in Australia.
HRAFF first took to Australian
screens in 2007, and proved to be no small undertaking for the young team of
organisers. However, their passion to
bring human rights to the forefront of Australian film and the nation’s
consciousness, overcame any trepidation they may have had.
“I really felt that more had to be done in Australia to broaden the discourse of human
rights beyond the law, beyond academia and beyond abstract rhetoric,” says Ev.
“I discovered that human rights festivals had
taken place all over the world, including New York, Paris, London and Auckland
but never before in Australia. So I just
decided to jump in the deep end and try to organise Australia’s first ever Human Rights Arts
and Film Festival.”
From over 250 submissions received
for the main program and the Reel Change Competition, approximately 22 features and 40
shorts will be screened at this year’s festival . The films are chosen on the basis of a
number of criteria including their effectiveness in communicating a human
rights issue to a wide audience, the production values of a film, and whether
the film will engage a wide, diverse audience.
HRAFF also encourages the screening of films that have had previously
limited release in Australia.
This year’s line-up will again feature films from all corners of the globe including Australia, North Korea, Israel, The Congo, USA, and the Balkans, providing the audience with an insight into the human rights issues affecting
different cultures and urging for a collective approach to tackling these
“The films make human rights human and give
these rather abstract issues a human face and human story. The beauty of film
is that it is accessible, it is popular and it can communicate across borders
and across cultures and so reach audiences that you wouldn’t otherwise be able
to reach,” acknowledges Ev.
An important aspect of HRAFF are the industry forums which
will enable film-makers, and video activists to network and further hone their
skills in regards to getting their ideas from paper onto the screen.
The festival’s Action Hubs will additionally be a space for
the public to ‘learn, create and reflect’ and attempt to incite positive change in the
community outside of the festival, through discussions with hub organisers and
“After we screened ‘A Walk to Beautiful’ last
year on our Opening Night, we had so many people tell us how much this film
really impacted them and spurred them to act. These actions ranged from just
donating money to the Fistula Foundation to actually wanting to go and visit
the hospital,” tells Ev.
Action is precisely what the Festival aims to achieve again
this year. Ev hopes that the estimated 10,000
nation-wide audience will not only be made aware of human rights issues through
films but be inspired to act to promote and protect them.
“We see our role as a facilitator – to bring
people, organisations and issues together so that we can create positive change
together,” affirms Ev.
For more information about HRAFF including dates and locations, visit http://www.hraff.org.au/