Saturday, August 29, 2015

Human Rights And Arts Festival 2015: Melbourne

This year's Human Rights Arts And Film Festival back in May served up many thought-provoking moments, and glimpses into the incredibly tough journeys many of our fellow man, and women, experience around the world.

Wolfskinder is about the forgotten children of World War II. The "Wolf Children" are the German children - orphans or displaced - who are walking, fleeing, and trying to find safety, through the country-side, through forests. In hiding, alone, and scared.
Facing things children should not have to face, and working out through each day how to survive.
It's clear, as the story continues, that other children are the only people that will help these children along the way. Adults either come to shot at the children, or are suspicious of them and wary of sharing any food they may have. The cobbled group of children that the film follows, which is ever changing and circumstances and tragedy hits, carry each other, find and share food for each other, keep watch as the others sleep.
Heartbreaking, and real. A tragedy of war not often focused on.

Breakfast Sessions were a new forum aspect of the Festival this year, and I attended the one on Refugees: An International Perspective. A panel of 4 experts in the area, including Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre and Rebecca Eckard from the Refugee Council, spoke about the lack of learning Australia takes from reviews of other countries, and of course talked about Australia's current policies of arbitrary, indefinite detention on and offshore.
This was paired with stories and scenarios from across the globe, and how other nations deal with refugees. The humanitarian efforts, and the sheer numbers some small nations are taking in, and providing safety to.
The Rohingya situation at sea at the time was highlighted in many examples, being the most persecuted minority in the world today, and a stunning fact that Australia had not settled any Rohingyan refugees for many, many years, was the stark reality of our current inhumanity in our dealings wit the refugee world issue. In addition to the future refugee crisis of climate change and it's impact on communities
The situation in Nauru was discussed. with the point about their dismantled law, and Australia's role of staying silence in the governance of this island nation, for their own political gains.

Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock 'n' Roll was an incredible and painful look at the music of pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodia. Vibrant, experimental, blues and jazz influenced rock, music scene, with such interesting characters and impressive instrumentation. So many of these stars were killed during the genocide, and with them, the musical scene that filled the bars and lounges of Phnom Penh. Tragic. A must view for anyone interested in the history of Cambodia, and also of music movements.

Transporting a full cinema of school aged kids for the CineSeeds screening of Bekas, which means 'those without family', to Kurdish Iraq at the time of Saddam Hussein rule. Inspired by a stolen glimpse of American cinema through a window, these boys gather the hope of making it over the far away hill, and to safety and a new life in America, with Superman. Kids doing kid things, having kid dreams and fantasy, as the tragic circumstances of their existence force a harsh reality onto their daily lives.

Lastly, I saw Slums: Cities Of Tomorrow, which also included a really interesting Q and A afterward. This is a documentary about the world's slums, and a look at the industry and the misery, the life and living, of these areas. Communities featured included the places that come to mind, like India and Middle East areas such as Morocco and Turkey. But it also featured the fascinating insight into people in New Jersey and Quebec, and the difficulties of the long-term homeless in Western society.

The Q and A highlighted some interesting reflections around sustainability of living, such as recycling, and living very simply, but also spoke about how the world at present has seemed to lost our way, in a community sense, in our constant strive for materialistic things, for that connectedness to the people around us, our neighbours and direct community, within our living spaces. We live in such a rush, we pass by these opportunities, that this film certainly highlighted as a means of survival for so many people.

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