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    Human Rights Watch Film Festival

    Bringing the War Back Home

    The Human Rights Watch Film Festival typically gives Americans a look at the horrors of Third World poverty and oppression, but this year the cameras are turned on us as often as them.


    The Human Rights Watch film festival usually brings tales of hope and horror from faraway lands — Chile, Iran, Indonesia, Haiti, any remote Third World place where poverty, torture and death are a well-documented reality. We annually look out at the rest of the world and shake our heads over the injustice in less fortunate countries.


    Related links: Official site
    Walter Reade Theater Lincoln Center, 65th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam (212) 875-5600

    Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2004
  • Overview
  • One Shot
  • Deadline
  • Maria Full of Grace
  • Persons of Interest
  • Official site
    Other festivals
  • Human Rights Watch 2001
  • Human Rights Watch 2003
  • Not this time.

    The star of this year's festival is America. It can be no coincidence that after four years of murky Soviet-style activities — midnight raids, disappearances, extralegal imprisonment, prisoner torture and unexplained deaths — filmmakers are turning their lenses squarely on the United States. Four of the films look at the breakdown of the legal system in this "nation of laws" — and how real people are the victims when no-longer-so-abstract principles are abandoned.

    "Persons of Interest" tells the stories of Muslim-Americans who were seized and imprisoned by the government in the wake of 9/11. "Deadline" examines the unraveling of Death Row in Illinois. "Juvies" looks at young people, many innocent of any serious crime, struggling to navigate the Los Angeles juvenile-justice system. And "The Corporation" reveals something most most Americans don't know — that under Supreme Court rulings, corporations have been given the status of "persons" and granted many of the rights that flesh-and-blood people have been denied.

    Of course, that still leaves plenty of room in the schedule for the usual foreign intrigue. If there's one knockout in the festival, it's "One Shot," a pulse-pounding documentary in which Israeli army snipers talk forthrightly about their work and even film some of their own missions.

    "Born Into Brothels" (pictured above) tells the story of what it calls the most stigmatized people in Calcutta — not prostitutes but their children. And "Maria Full of Grace," due for theatrical release in the coming month, follows a young Colombian woman on a drug-carrying mission to the U.S.

    Festival articles



    Born into Brothels

    Two filmmakers both chronicle and try to help the children born to prostitutes and other shunned women in Calcutta in the moving documentary "Born into Brothels."



    A documentary undermines arguments for the death penalty by structuring its story around a capital-punishment believer, George Ryan, whose conscience was stricken by what he learned as governor of Illinois.


    Maria Full of Grace

    "Maria Full of Grace" paints a passionate but never overdramatized portrait of women who fly to America with drugs in their stomachs.


    One Shot

    A tense, troubling look into the work and the minds of the snipers who carry out assassinations on behalf of the Israeli army.


    Persons of Interest

    Some of the people rounded up, imprisoned and finally released for lack of evidence during the government's anti-Islamic post-9/11 dragnet tell their stories.

    JUNE 11, 2004

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