Over 25,000 people went to the International Human Rights Film Festival and Forum in Geneva. As its name suggests, the event is deliberately polemic and attracts a wide audience. The films shown are documentaries.
Leo Kaneman, the festival’s director, said: “We have a double approach – the films must have artistic value because that is what allows us to talk about human rights. But the other side is political because we also organise panel discussions: a film, a topic and a public discussion. But there’s no debate unless a film has artistic merit.”
The festival’s top prize went to Syrian documentary maker Talal Derki, for his film ‘Return to Homs’, which already won a prize at Robert Redford’s Sundance Festival in Utah. The film follows the fortunes of two young pacifists who eventually took up arms in Homs.
Derki said: “The film shows how people use weapons to defend and protect the daily lives of their families and children. It shows how exhausted they are and how much they long for a return to normal life.”
The second prize went to German director Maro Wilms for his documentary ‘Art War’, about post-revolution artists in Egypt. The film explores the contribution of art to the revolution, the blossoming of creative expression after it, and the role of art in the struggle to complete the transition to democracy.
Wilms said: “The artwork of the Egyptian artists in my film reflects the world in miniature, like a water drop. I think the merit of art is that it can express the complexity of people’s feelings during a revolution.”