To celebrate the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival 2016, the first festival they have produced from their new home in Donkey Wheel House, we have chosen our top picks from the program.
>> Hear My Eyes and HRAFF Present The Pearl Button with Live Score by Mick Turner (Dirty Three)
Winning the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Best Script, The Pearl Button explores the scientific and metaphysical properties of water to demonstrate the unity of humanity, nature and the universe. Focusing on his home country of Chile, director Patricio Guzmán offers profound insights into its Indigenous cultures, including the impact of colonisation and Augusto Pinochet’s ruthless dictatorship from 1973-1990. The Pearl Button is a visually astounding piece of cinema that’s filled with fascinating insights from poets, anthropologists, historians and philosophers.
Mick Turner is the guitarist from iconic Australian instrumental rock band, Dirty Three as well as a solo artist. Turner, an admirer of The Pearl Button, will perform an original, semi-improvised live score to complement the film. His unique style of effortlessly entrancing guitar tones has featured on records with Cat Power, Bonny prince Billy, and Nick Cave.
>> Maya Angelou And Still I Rise
Dr. Maya Angelou’s legendary writings including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Phenomenal Woman and On the Pulse of Morning are merely a few examples of how words can truly change the world. Although she is most well noted for her poetry, Maya Angelou and Still I Rise celebrates her multiple talents including singing, dancing, filmmaking, academia and civil rights activism, how she inspired generations, pushed boundaries and never ceased in her long fight for freedom for all. Bob Hercules and Rita Coburns Whack’s extraordinary film seamlessly weaves the key messages of her poetry into the narrative of her life with rare archival footage, interviews and of course, recitals of her original works. Powerful, proud and prolific, Angelou’s story is one of true courage and creativity of a woman who fought for her beliefs and lived life to the fullest.
>> Opening Night - Chasing Asylum
Globally, there is no more urgent issue than the plight of asylum seekers and refugees. Chasing Asylum – created by Academy Award-winning Australian director Eva Orner – is an ambitious, moving and confronting documentary that explores this issue in-depth. The film features never-before-seen footage of off-shore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, revealing the conditions asylum seekers are living in.
Right now, there are 60 million displaced people in the world – that’s one in every 122 humans that are either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum. Chasing Asylum is an important documentary that brings to light the human impact of this global issue.
>> Prison Songs
In Australia’s first ever musical documentary, the inmates of the notorious Berrimah Prison in the Northern Territory share their stories, experiences and feelings through songs they helped to create. Berrimah Prison has been described as Dickensian; first opened to hold 115 prisoners, but by the time it closed in 2014 it was housing more than 800. The vast majority of inmates are Indigenous. Alcohol and drugs drive much of the crime and over 90% of prisoners have experienced domestic violence. Through hip-hop, blues, gospel and reggae, the prisoners mesh personal, intimate stories with song to create a portrait of life in a society with one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.