Edited by Dina Iordanova and Leshu Torchin

978-0-9563730-5-2 (paperback)
978-0-9563730-6-9 (hardback)

£19.99 (paperback), 317 pages
£50.00 (hardback), 317 pages

St Andrews Film Studies, 2012


Film Festivals and Activism

Film Festival Yearbook 4

Film festivals not only build markets and audiences, they also provide platforms for those advocating for change, and in recent years have been playing an increasing role in social justice movements and campaigns. Bringing together the perspectives of scholars, programmers, filmmakers and activists, Film Festivals and Activism provides essential insight into the nature, function and practice of activist film festivals. With interviews, conceptual overviews, case studies, histories, bibliographies, and tables of festivals around the world, this volume offers an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners alike.


Ronit Avni, Igor Blaževic, Jasmina Bojic, Bruni Burres, Amalia Córdova, Greg De Cuir Jr., Marijke de Valck, Sean Farnel, Alex Fischer, Georgekutty A. L., Mariagiulia Grassilli, Judith Helfand, Nick Higgins, Raluca Iacob, Dina Iordanova, Skadi Loist, David Mitchell, Clare Muller, Robert A. Rosenstone, Isabel Santaolalla, Kathleen Scott, Stefan Simanowitz, Sharon Snyder, Beatriz Tadeo Fuica, Leshu Torchin, Ger Zielinski, Želimir Žilnik, Patricia R. Zimmermann


Part 1: Contexts

Networked for Advocacy: Film Festivals and Activism (Leshu Torchin)

Film Festivals and Dissent: Can Film Change the World? (Dina Iordanova)

Human Rights Film Festivals: Global/Local Networks for Social Justice and Advocacy (Mariagiulia Grassilli)

On the Development of Queer Film Festivals and Their Media Activism (Ger Zielinski and Skadi Loist)

Towards an Indigenous Film Festival Circuit (Amalia Córdova)

Permutations of the Species: Independent Disability Cinema and the Critique of National Normativity (David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder)

Traffic Jam Revisited: Film Festivals, Activism and Human Trafficking (Leshu Torchin)

Part 2: Case Studies

Film Festivals as a Human Rights Awareness Building Tool: Experiences of the Prague One World Festival (Igor Blaževic)

A Cinematic Refuge in the Desert: Festival Internacional de Cine del Sahara (Stefan Simanowitz and Isabel Santaolalla)

‘Tell Our Story to the World’: The Meaning of Success for A Massacre Foretold – A Filmmaker Reflects (Nick Higgins)

Voices from the Waters: International Travelling Film Festival on Water (Georgekutty A.L.)

Mediterranean Encounters in Rabat: Rencontres méditerranéennes cinéma et droits de l’Homme (Robert A. Rosenstone)

Human Rights Film Festivals as an Emerging Model of Human Rights Education: The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival (HRAFF), Australia (Clare Muller)

Humanist and Poetic Activism: The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in the 1950s (Patricia R. Zimmermann)

Part 3: Resources

The Resources: Groundwork Continued (Leshu Torchin and Dina Iordanova)

From Local to Global: The Growing Pains of the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival: An Interview with Bruni Burres, Festival Director (1991-2008) (Alex Fischer)

Combining the Foreign with the Familiar: An Interview with Jasmina Bojic, Founder and Director of the United Nations Association Film Festival (Raluca Iacob)

Hot Docs: A Prescription for Reality: An Interview with Sean Farnel, Former Director of Programming at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (Alex Fischer)

Just Vision and the Uses of a Festival Circuit:  An Interview with Ronit Avni, Executive Director of Just Vision (Leshu Torchin)

‘Connect Me with Activism and Film Practice, Not Activism and Film Festivals!’: An Interview with Želimir Žilnik, Filmmaker (Greg De Cuir Jr.)

How to Leverage a Film Festival: An Interview with Judith Helfand, Filmmaker and Co-founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures and Working Films (Leshu Torchin)

The Human Touch: A Review of the One World Human Rights Film Festival Handbook (Alex Fischer)

Bibliography: Films, Film Festivals and Activism (Kathleen Scott)

Table 1: Human Rights Film Festivals (Beatriz Tadeo Fuica)

Table 2: Indigenous Film Festivals (Beatriz Tadeo Fuica and Amalia Córdova)

Table 3: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Film Festivals (Beatriz Tadeo Fuica and Skadi Loist)

Table 4: Film Festivals Related to (Involuntary) Migration (Beatriz Tadeo Fuica)

Table 5: Disability and Health-Related Festivals (Beatriz Tadeo Fuica)

Table 5a: Deaf Film Festivals (Beatriz Tadeo Fuica)

Thematic Bibliography on Film Festival Research   Update: 2011 (Marijke de Valck and Skadi Loist)


Sam Gregory (Programme Director, Witness, New York, USA)

Film Festivals and Activism provides an excellent overview of the field of human rights and other activist film festivals. It combines field-level synthesis by academics with expertise in both film festivals and human rights activism and employs a range of perspectives from key protagonists working in both established and new festival settings.

Bjørn Sørenssen (Professor of Film and Media, Trondheim, Norway)

Film Festivals and Activism constitutes a profound acknowledgement of the work carried out by film festivals and contains a wealth of useful information about the ideas behind them. It manages to convey the great diversity of the international film circuit, featuring contributions that range from the traditionally academic to the engagingly essayistic. Film Festivals and Activism clearly demonstrates the need for this kind of publication in academic film studies and, most importantly, provides a valuable resource for anyone planning or working with international film festivals.

Maria Garcia, 'Film Festival Yearbook 4: Film Festivals and Activism', Cineaste Vol. XXXVIII, No. 1, Winter 2012, p. 77.

Activism, as Film Festivals and Activism proves, is not easily defined, nor are human rights, in some cases. Scholarly consideration of the effects film festivals have on the Zeitgeist, on the other hand, is in fact invaluable as both an exploration of the art of cinema and research in the realm of human rights. [...] Film Festivals and Activism provides a good cross-section of opinion on how to accomplish informed citizenry.