Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London — Wim Wenders on Sebastião Salgado, Jon Stewart’s directorial debut and the animated adventures of the 18 cows Israel declared a threat to national security.

For over 35 years, Human Rights Watch have campaigned tirelessly to affect policy change to protect the rights of people.

Alongside their work pressuring governments, they’ve also attempted to bring about cultural change, encouraging a greater respect for justice and security in all corners of the globe.

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is a global initiative that celebrates the best socially-conscious filmmaking and arrives in London, March 18-27.

Here’s are five favourites from a stellar line-up.

The Salt of the Earth

Photographer Sebastião Salgado’s life story is the stuff of legend. He fled military dictatorship in his native Brazil and lived in exile through the 1970s before going on to shoot some of the most powerful images of our time, including violence and displacement in South America, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Iraq. Now Wim Wenders and his son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado have put together a powerful documentary profile which follows Sebastião as he crosses continents to complete a monumental project on the effects of climate change.

HRW benefit at the British Museum, Thursday March 19 from 18.30.


After announcing his departure from The Daily Show earlier this year, everybody’s waiting to see what Jon Stewart will do next. His directorial debut Rosewater could be a hint at Stewart’s future plans. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, the film reconstructs the events surrounding Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari’s imprisonment by Iranian authorities after appearing on Stewart’s show during his reporting of the country’s volatile 2009 elections.

Friday 27 March 18.30 at Ritzy Brixton.

The Yes Men Are Revolting

Over the last two decades, activists the Yes Men have become notorious for their hilarious and outrageous hoaxes that shine spotlight on corporate crimes against people and the planet. Now they’ve turned their attention to fighting climate change, but can they succeed in their toughest battle yet?

Thursday 19 March 18.30 at Curzon Soho.

The Wanted 18

With a powerful mix of interviews and stop motion, The Wanted 18 recounts the bizarre true story of the 18 cows that Israel declared a threat to national security. The cows were part of an independent Palestinian collective farm started in Beit Sahour as a response to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The farm was a huge success until the attentions of the Isreali army forced the cows underground to keep producing their illegal “Intifada milk.”

Tuesday 24 March 20.45 at Barbican and Thursday 26 March 20.45 at Ritzy Brixton.

Uyghurs, Prisoners of the Absurd

Members of China’s misunderstood and downtrodden Uyghur minority became trapped in the US’s Kafka-esque War on Terror machine after a trip to Afghanistan went awry. At the mercy of post 9/11 geopolitics, they ended up spending years illegally detained at Guantánamo before eventually being released. Director Patricio Henríquez recounts the tale with the pace and intensity of a thriller as the survivors attempt to come to terms with their experience.

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival runs at venues around London, March 18-27.