Human Rights Watch Film Festival to return to Lincoln Center this spring

A still from “The Midwives,” which will screen at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
Still courtesy of Dogwoof

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival will present ten groundbreaking films at Lincoln Center and IFC Center from May 20 to 26, 2022. Now in its 33rd year, the 2022 edition highlights activism for human rights and features courageous individuals around the world standing up to powerful forces demanding change. 

“We are thrilled to be back in theaters after two years away, bringing our audiences a full slate of powerful films tackling urgent human rights issues including China, Russia, the climate crisis and reproductive rights,” said John Biaggi, Director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. 

For over 40 years, Human Rights Watch has defended people at risk of abuse by investigating and exposing facts. The Human Rights Watch Film Festival bears witness to human rights violated indirect storytelling and exposé form and creates a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. 

Throughout the week, the festival will feature ten engaging films available both in-person and online. The New York festival will consist of a full program of in-person screenings at Film at Lincoln Center and IFC Center, with in-depth discussions with filmmakers, film participants, activists and Human Rights Watch researchers. 

“The partnership between Film at Lincoln Center and Human Rights Watch is more important than ever in demonstrating the power of film to shine a light on international crises and individuals fighting for freedoms and human rights around the world,” said Lesli Klainberg, President of Film at Lincoln Center. “History has shown that film not only empowers understanding but also ignites urgent public dialogues about how to help the most vulnerable.”

Among the thought-provoking films is Eternal Spring, which tells the story of brave members of a religious movement called Falun Gong, who protested their persecution by the Chinese government by hijacking their local TV station in 2002. In the aftermath, police raids sweep Changchun City, and comic book illustrator Daxiong, a Falun Gong practitioner, is forced to flee. The story is told from the eyes and art of Daxiong and other survivors. 

“There is something universal about the story,” said Director and Producer Jason Loftus. “This film is timely in a sense that what we see that took place with the community and their struggle for the truth and the repression and the tactics used against them, we see those same things reemerging in Northwest China. We see the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong… I really like the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. They do a great job at showcasing the film and what can we learn from it. So I think there is a really important place for the festival in the release of films filled with messages of social and human rights.” 

With a shared goal to raise awareness of the human rights issues profiled in the films, Human Rights Film Festival conducts widescale grassroots outreach to ensure that impacted communities, as well as decision-makers and policymakers, are made aware of film screenings and invited to engage with the film.