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12th edition of IFF WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film to start on Friday

“Death row”, a new documentary by Werner Herzog, will open the International Film Festival WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film. The opening ceremony will take place on 7 December, in Warsaw. WATCH DOCS is one of the two largest human rights film festivals worldwide. For 12 years, its organisers have been committed to the promotion of documentaries among Polish viewers.

During the 10 day festival, the audience will have a chance to watch nearly 90 documentaries from all over the world which combine art with individual rights advocacy. This is the first year with screenings held simultaneously in two cities: Warsaw, from 7 to 16 December and Lublin, from 7 to 10 December.

A highlight of this year’s programme will be a retrospective of the films by Jafar Panahi, a filmmaker associated with the Iranian New Wave movement. This year’s festival selection includes the recent production of Panahi,“This Is Not a Film”. The film was smuggled from Iran to be screened at the Cannes film festival on a flash-drive hidden in a cake. Naming Mr Panahi as a 2012 Sakharov Prize winner became a pretext to extend the WATCH DOCS festival’s programme with two debates and a music event. On 7 December Lublin will host a debate “Iran – chances for democracy” whereas on 9 December a discussion “Hushed Iran” will be held in Warsaw. The concert, WATCH DOCS and the FREEDOM OF THOUGHT – The Saint Box & Pictorial Candi for Jafar Panahi, is scheduled for 14 December in Warsaw.

The WATCH DOCS competition will showcase the world’s best human rights documentaries. Fifteen films made between 2011 and 2012 will be competing for the WATCH DOCS award founded by the Polish Filmmakers Association. There are also four permanent repertoire sections in the festival’s programme: the “I Want to See” section, that is a selection of documentaries on events, people and topics that are currently of the utmost interest for human rights defenders, “The Close-ups: Burma”, “The Discreet Charm of Propaganda: Ladies to the Left, Gentlemen to the Right”, focusing on the propaganda using gender stereotypes and the “New Polish films” section. The 12th edition of WATCH DOCS festival will see the revival of the “Watch Shorts” section. In addition, two thematic retrospectives have been added to the programme: “Portrait of a Tormentor”, a set of documentaries depicting murderers who, influenced by ideology or propaganda, committed crimes against humanity, and “Framing the Others”, an exploration of the image of otherness in culture, specifically in film culture.

As in previous years, the festival audience will have an opportunity to participate in master lectures given by outstanding documentary creators, meetings with authors of the selected films and human rights experts. The viewers will also attend special screenings.

In Warsaw, the screenings will be held in the following venues: Iluzjon and Muranów cinemas, the Center For Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle which houses two screening rooms, Kino.LAB and Laboratory, and the Old Library, University of Warsaw. In Lublin, the films selected for screening at the festival will be shown in the screening room of the Lublin TVP centre and in the Kawka caffee. Admission to all festival events is free.

The IFF WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film is a joint initiative of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle and the Social Film Institute. This year’s edition has been endorsed by the Lublin based human rights organisation Homo Faber. After the closing of the festival in Warsaw, WATCH DOCS will continue as a travelling festival, bound to visit 40 Poland’s town and cities in 2013.

For more information, visit the Festival’s website.

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