Human Rights Watch Film Festival Opens With ‘Seven Winters in Tehran’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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“Seven Winters in Tehran,” about a 19-year-old Iranian woman sentenced to death for killing the man who tried to rape her, will open the 34th annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival on May 31 in New York City.

The festival, co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the IFC Center, will feature 10 documentaries about humanitarian challenges around the world. This year’s edition spotlights themes and topics including the Ukraine conflict (“When Spring Came to Bucha”), climate gentrification and justice (“Razing Liberty Square”), women’s rights (“Draw Me Egypt”) transgender rights (“Into My Name”) freedom of the press (“The Etilaat Roz”) and access to health care in the United States (“Pay or Die”).

“From the war in Ukraine to women’s rights and bodily autonomy, to environmental gentrification and freedom of the press, these films span some of the most pressing human rights issues of our time,” says John Biaggi, director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. “It is vital that they are seen by audiences, and we are honored to bring them to audiences in the U.S.”

The fest’s centerpiece docu, “Theatre of Violence,” follows a charismatic Ugandan lawyer defending former child soldier Dominic Ongwen as he faces trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. “Pay or Die,” which follows three families struggling with the crushing financial reality of living with Type 1 diabetes in the U.S., will close the festival on June 8.

“Draw Me Egypt – Doaa El-Adl, A Stroke of Freedom,” about one of the most prominent cartoonists of the Arab world, will make its world premiere at the festival. The nine other films on the lineup will make their U.S. or New York debuts.

Screenings of each film at Manhattan’s Film at Lincoln Center and IFC Center will be followed by in-depth discussions with filmmakers, docu participants, journalists, activists, and Human Rights Watch researchers. The festival will continue to offer the opportunity to watch all ten docus online nationwide across the U.S. from June 5 to June 11.

In past years the Human Rights Watch Film Festival has featured docus including Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes’  “The Janes,” David France’s “Welcome to Chechnya,” Nanfu Wang’s “One Child Nation,” Stanley Nelson’s “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” as well as Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Look of Silence,” and “The Act of Killing.”

The majority of this year’s festival films will be audio described and play with captions, with live transcription for the conversations to follow.

The full Human Rights Watch 2023 lineup is as follows:

“Draw Me Egypt – Doaa El-Adl, A Stroke of Freedom,” Nada Riyadh, Belgium, France, Luxemburg, The Netherlands
“The Etilaat Roz,” Abbas Rezaie, Afghanistan
“Into My Name (Nel Mio Nome),” Nicolò Bassetti, Italy
“Koromousso, Big Sister,” Habibata Ouarme, Jim Donovan, Canada
“Pay or Die,”  Rachael Dyer, Scott Alexander Ruderman, USA
“Razing Liberty Square,” Katja Esson, USA
“Seven Winters in Tehran,” Steffi Niederzoll, Germany, France
“Theatre of Violence,” Lukasz Konopa, Emil Langballe, Denmark, Germany
“We Are Guardians,” Edivan Guajajara, Chelsea Greene, Rob Grobman, Brazil, USA
“When Spring Came to Bucha,” Mila Teshaieva, Marcus Lenz, Germany, Ukraine

Human Rights Watch Film Festival Opens With ‘Seven Winters in Tehran’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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