The 9th Human Rights Documentary Film Festival: I Xpress!

(Press Release sent by Cultural Connections on behalf of Amnesty International Hong Kong)

Documenting the Fight for Freedom of Expression
The 9th Human Rights Documentary Film Festival: I Xpress!

(14 August, 2019 ) In 2019, Hong Kong has gone through a turbulent time in the midst of the heated summer, so as human rights around the world. Human rights defenders from around the world strive on their beliefs and bravely express themselves in order to defend freedom of expression. The 9th Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (9th HRDFF) will continue to show our local audience how people in the world, through various means and at different times, safeguarded and fought for freedom of expression.

Organised by Amnesty International Hong Kong since 2011, “Human Rights Documentary Film Festival” aims to enhance Hong Kong audiences’ awareness of the human rights issues and human rights situations in different parts of the world. Entering its ninth year, this year’s film festival is themed “I Xpress”. Seven documentaries depicting freedom of expression and produced in different regions are selected, through which audience will learn about people’s pursuit of rights and freedoms by expressing their thoughts and appeals in different parts of the world; and explore the boundaries and restrictions of freedom of expression.

The importance of ‘Xpress’ in the eyes of social movement leaders

“The State Against Mandela and The Others” features creative animation, sound files and interviews with the survived, to reconstruct the climax in the South African Anti-Apartheid movement – the Rivonia trial in 1963 which led to the life imprisonment of Mandela and his comrades. It elaborates on the adherence of Mandela’s comrades and their families to freedom, conviction, human rights, love, responsibility, and how these beliefs are integrated with history and the individuals themselves. “Our Youth in Taiwan” documents Wei-ting Chen, the star of Taiwanese student movement, and Boyi Cai, a mainland Chinese student who fell in love with Taiwan during her overseas study. The filming coincided with Sunflower Movement, which is the largest social movement in Taiwan in the past 24 years. The coming-of-age story occurs in young lives everywhere, the youthful shared dreams of rebellion and building a better country. As the Sunflower Movement proceeded, the protagonists came closer to realising their goals, but were also gradually let down.

Opening film: “The Silence of Others” reveals wounds of the dictatorship era

In 1970s, after 40 years under Franco’s fascist dictatorship, the Spanish government signed an Amnesty Law which offered impunity to all unlawful acts committed under the dictatorship regime and its Civil Guard, forcefully ‘forgetting’ all crimes of the past. The silence of the society was the source of the victims’ suffering and the accomplice of the perpetrators. Six years of filming tracked how survivors broke the silence and filed a groundbreaking international lawsuit in the Argentinian court, overcame their collective forgetting and fought for justice.

Closing film: “The Poetess” declared war against the corrupted authority

In 2010, Saudi Arabian poetess Hissa Hilal shocked the Arab World by becoming the first female to enter the final round of “Million’s Poet”, a famous million-dollar reality television show in the UAE. Behind her black burqa and from her trembling body, she speaks as a Saudi woman and criticised the rigid and extreme Islamic fatwas and the patriarchal society in which women endure inequality. Despite death threats against her and her family, Hissa persisted, and eventually the predominate male members in the society were impressed by Hissa’s poems that were deemed to be rebellious.

Other featured documentaries:

As a former right-wing extremist, the director of “Exit” has embarked a journey of deep self-reflection. Together with other former extremists, their accounts on the past spark reflection on violence and its consequences. “Ask the Sexpert” followed the legendary Indian sexologist Dr. Watsa who is now 91 and his column on the Mumbai Mirror that has answered his readers millions of questions about sex. Despite many of them seemed ignorant and ridiculous, Dr. Watsa has written them advice with a generous dose of humour. Nevertheless, his openness towards sex education has also brought court charges against him. Through illustrating the development of sex education in India, this film probes into the taboo of sex in modern society and its influence on the advancement of gender equality. “RocKabul” recounts a group of metal-loving young musicians who started the first-ever metal band in Afghanistan secretly in a garage in Kabul, the country’s capital, despite prominent security threats from the Taliban. While liberating the oppressed Afghans through music, the band has received death threats and found themselves in the dilemma of leaving or staying.

Details of 9th Human Right Documentary Film Festival

Organiser: Amnesty International Hong Kong Section Human Rights Education Charitable Trust
Date: 27th September to 4th October, 2019
Venues: Broadway Cinematheque; Broadway The ONE; Hong Kong Arts Centre Louis Koo Cinema
Ticketing: (For the screenings at Broadway cinemas) (For the screening at Hong Kong Arts Centre)
Tickets will be available from 19 August 2019 onwards

Promoting an Inclusive Society through HRDFF

Similar to previous years, wheelchair accessible cinemas have been chosen for screenings and Chinese accessible subtitles will be provided. Furthermore, some screenings will be facilitated with audio description in Cantonese, and some discussion sessions will be assisted by Hong Kong Sign Language. By addressing the diverse needs of the disabled communities, HRDFF hopes to raise public awareness about the needs of people with disabilities. HRDFF will also organise free community screenings in mid-late October in order to encourage people from different social backgrounds to take part in the events.

Introduction of Amnesty International and HRDFF

Amnesty International is the largest human rights movement in the world, with over 7 million supporters from 150 countries. Established in 1982, Amnesty International Hong Kong (AIHK) is committed to educating people about global and local human rights issues as well as the meaning of defending human rights via various human rights education programmes.

Marking its 9th year, Amnesty International Hong Kong Section Human Rights Education Charitable Trust’s Human Rights Documentary Film Festival attracts over a thousand audience every year, with audience numbers rising year after year and an average occupancy rate of over 80%. Outstanding documentaries with a focus on prevalent human rights issues are selected across the globe, that enables the audience to understand more about the current situation and the importance of human rights. Apart from ticketing of cinema screenings, in order to allow more people to take part, HRDFF organises free community screenings for certain listed films every year. This year’s free community screenings will be held in mid to late October; further details will be announced on 27 September 2019.

Note to Editors:

Download 9th HRDFF booklet, leaflet, film still images and festival trailer:

Media are welcome to interview Dr. MK Tam, Executive Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, and members of the film selection panel, who come from the film and other sectors (Director: Mr. Ying Liang and Mr. Ng Ka Leung, Film critics: Mr. Fung Ka Ming and Human rights activist: Ms. Connie Chan). Please contact us for arrangement.