The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival (HRAFF) will be taking place across Australia next month, showcasing engaging content from around the world that will encourage people to create positive change together.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 a 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 injustices.
“The films make human rights human and give these rather abstract issues a human face and human story. The beauty of the 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 is 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 patrons.
“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 audiences 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/