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Nairobi: Celebrating Efforts to Spark Change

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Saturday, October 22, 2016
Film Festival to Address Migration, Radicalization, Women in Leadership

The fifth annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be held in Nairobi on November 14-19, 2016, with a program of five award-winning documentary films.

The films highlight the many social and legal obstacles that activists and ordinary citizens have to overcome, often at great personal cost, to obtain justice. The films will be shown at three venues; the
 Alliance Française de Nairobi, Monrovia/Loita Street; The Rift Valley Institute, Laikipia Road, and Pawa 254, on Statehouse Crescent Road. A question-and-answer session will follow each screening. Admission is free.

“This year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival in Nairobi hosts an array of films that look at people who have taken action to change not only their personal stories but the narratives of their communities and societies,” said Andrea Holley, strategic director, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, who will be in Nairobi for the festival. “By coming together to share these stories, we believe we can create new narratives and establish a platform for discussing human rights issues from diverse perspectives.”

The films document the struggle for social justice by the United States African-American community, radicalization in Pakistan, migration by Africans to Europe, the struggle against dictatorship in Nigeria, and the work of a band of Kenyans seeking retributive justice using digital technology as a people’s court in the face of what it views as the country’s failing criminal justice system.

Film Screenings

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution: Monday, 14 November 2016; 6.45 p.m.; 116 minutes (Alliance Francaise de Nairobi)
Stanley Nelson – US – 2015 – documentary

The festival will open with
 The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, a feature-length documentary with first-person accounts by early members of the organization and rank-and-file members in cities like Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles, and New York, as well as the voices of lawyers, journalists, scholars, police officers, and former FBI agents.

In the 1960s, change was coming to America. Those seeking to drastically transform the system believed radical change was not only feasible, but imminent. For a short time, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense put itself at the vanguard of that change.

An opening reception will be held at
 6.15 p.m. 
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A discussion will follow the screening.

Among the Believers: Tuesday, 15 November 2016; 6.30 p.m.; 84 minutes (Alliance Francaise de Nairobi) 
Hemal Trivedi, Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Jonathan Goodman Levitt – Pakistan – 2015 – documentary

Among the Believers charts the personal quest of a firebrand Pakistani cleric to impose a strict version of Sharia (Islamic law) throughout the country, as a model for the world. But while the Red Mosque Islamic School offers food and lodging, many people in Pakistan seek to stop the scourge of violence that it encourages.

The film uses extensive access and chilling footage to explore the spread of the radical ideology of the Red Mosque, which trains children from a very young age to devote their lives to jihad.

A discussion will follow.

Mediterranea: Wednesday 16 November 2016; 6.30 p.m.; 107 minutes (Alliance Francaise de Nairobi)
Jonas Carpignano – Italy – 2015 – drama

The world in recent months has watched in horror and been shocked at the TV images being beamed into their living rooms about the perilous and fatal journeys of Africans and others from the Middle East to Europe in a desperate bid to escape intolerable war and economic hardships in their countries of origin. During the first five months of 2016 alone, more than 2,500 refugees and migrants have been killed trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Mediterranea charts the struggle of Ayiva and Abbas, Burkinabe brothers who cross oceans and deserts to pursue a better life. But the promise of opportunity soon turns to frustration when they face the hardships of racist small-town Italy. The film is built on the narrative of the 2010 Rosarno riots and the real life journey of Koudous Seihon, an African immigrant who is the lead actor. The filmmaker, Jonas Carpignano, injects a powerful sense of urgency into this film.

The film from the filmmaking collective behind
 Beasts of the Southern Wild, had its international premiere during critics’ week at Cannes in 2015.

A discussion will follow.

Tuko Macho: Thursday, 17 November; 6.30 p.m.; 90 minutes (Alliance Francaise de Nairobi)
The Nest Collective – Kenya – 2016 – special program

 Tuko Macho organization, a vigilante cell run by the ruthless Biko, snatches up criminals from Nairobi streets and puts them on trial before the world’s most powerful public court – the internet, whose anonymous viewership decides whether the offenders should live or die.

Tuko Macho (meaning “We Are Watching” in Swahili), is an interactive web series created and produced by The Nest Collective. The films follow a series of kidnappings carried out by a vigilante cell. Three selected episodes from the series will be shown.

Join us for an interactive discussion with the creators of this series, moderated by Agnes Odhiambo of Human Rights Watch.

The Supreme Price: Friday, 18 November; 6.30 p.m.; 93 minutes (Rift Valley Institute)
Joanna Lipper – Nigeria – 2014 – 75m – documentary

The Supreme Price tells the story of Hafsat Abiola, daughter of the human rights heroine Kudirat Abiola, and Nigeria's then-President-elect M.K.O. Abiola, who won a historic vote in 1993 that promised to end years of military dictatorship. Shortly after the election, his victory was annulled and he was arrested. While he was imprisoned, his wife took over leadership of the pro-democracy movement.

The Abiola family’s intimate story unfolds against the epic backdrop of Nigeria’s evolution from independence in 1960, through a series of military dictatorships to present day civilian rule as Hafsat Abiola continues to work to transform a corrupt governing culture into a democracy capable of serving Nigeria's most marginalized population: women.

A discussion will follow.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution: Saturday, 19 November 2016; 2.30 p.m.; 116 minutes (PAWA 254) – REPEAT 

A discussion will follow.

For more information about the Human Rights Watch Nairobi Film Festival, please visit:

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