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WATCH DOCS festival to start on Friday

The 15th International Film Festival WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film starts on 4 December in Warsaw. The festival is one of the biggest human rights film festivals in the world. The programme of the festival includes more than sixty films from all continents. The screenings will be accompanied by meetings with filmmakers and characters appearing in presented films, debates with experts and human rights defenders, workshops and master lectures.

As every year, the permanent sections of the festival include “I want to see”, a selection of films covering key events that have been attracting the interest of human rights defenders over the last years, “Discreet Charm of Propaganda”, which this time features exclusively the works of Jim Finn, “New Polish Films”, a review of the most engaging proposals of the Polish social documentary cinema, “Watch Shorts”, a selection of inspiring short films and a retrospective of a selected director – this year, Nick Broomfield’s. The agenda of the upcoming festival will also include “The Great Escape”, a section exploring the subject of exile and refugees, and “Style Matters!”, a presentation of the artistic diversity of European documentary film making.

Apart from the 15 films of the main festival’s line-up, the audience will have an opportunity to watch documentaries about violence against women and cyberbullying (“The Hunting Ground” and “No Place to Hide: The Rehtaeh Parsons Story”), documentary accounts of the functioning of oppressive regimes (“Made in BY” and “Chechnya: War without Trace”), and a story about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the anti-Kremlin dissident pardoned in 2013.

This year, the “Discreet Charm of Propaganda” section features Jim Finn, an experimental filmmaker from NYC with a long track record of films that escape all classifications. The most eminent of his works is the trilogy of “utopian comedies” that touch upon themes of socialist and Maoist propaganda and a world seen through the eyes (or rather a camera) of Kim Jong Il. During the 15th IFF WATCH DOCS Jim Finn will conduct a master lecture.

Another important guest of the Festival will be Anna Neistat from the London headquarters of Amnesty International, a coordinator of research focusing on human rights protection. For many years Ms Neistat was also a long-term collaborator of Human Rights Watch and a member of the HRW special team that collects and documents human rights abuses in conflict zones (the film “E-Team”, depicting the team’s work, will be screened during the Festival). Anna Neistat and another Festival’s guest, Robert Worth, The New York Times correspondent covering the Arab Spring, will take part in a debate entitled “Freedom in the Arab World: Revolt of the Elites, Revolt of the Masses”, co-organised by the HFHR and the European Parliament Information Office in Poland.

The IFF guest list also includes the name of Sean McAllister, an eminent British documentary filmmaker. His latest film, “A Syrian Love Story” will open the 15th WATCH DOCS Festival. The Festival will also be attended by Russian director Alexander Rastorguev, the producer of “Kiev/Moscow”, a film signed by young documentarian Elena Khoreva.

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