Chicago will play host to one of the most powerful, riveting and socially relevant film festivals in the world beginning June 3.
The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival will present 12 distinguished fiction, documentary and animated films and videos from around the world that showcase the heroic stories of activists and survivors who have faced real threats to their freedom, their dignity and to their own lives.
Seven films will be seen in Illinois for the very first time.
The festival kicks off with a benefit screening of The Oath on June 3 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Oath, which recently drew praises from The New York Times and The New Yorker, tells the story of Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, and Salim Hamdan, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay Prison and the first man to face the controversial military tribunals. Filmed in Yemen and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, The Oath is a family drama about two men whose fateful encounter in 1996 set them on a journey that would lead to Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay Prison, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Oath’s director, Laura Poitras, will be at the event that night to speak with the audience after the film, alongside Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism and Counterterrorism director. Ticket information is available here.
The festival continues through June 10 at Facets Cinematheque (1517 W. Fullerton). Facets will be showing 11 amazing films– from Afghan Star, which follows the first season of the Afghan version of American Idol, to My Neighbor, My Killer, which documents the reconciliation process between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, to Youth Producing Change, which blends clips from winners of Human Rights Watch’s inspiring annual youth film contest.
The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival has something for everyone.
— Cathy Stein is a volunteer for Human Rights Watch and co-chairs the June 3 benefit screening