Thank you for inviting the Human Rights Watch Film Festival into your home. Our 10 films this year cover a wide range of themes. You may want to consider the suitability of the films for yourself and those you’ll be watching with. Each film has a synopsis and trailer to help you consider whether the film is appropriate.
If you have selected a film you know might be challenging, we have provided techniques below that our own Human Rights Watch researchers use when viewing sensitive and distressing content.
Set up your environment
Try to be in a place where you won’t be disturbed, ideally not where you go to relax, like your bedroom. Consider who else is in your home and whether they can see your screen. To focus on the film and stay present, turn off your emails and phone if possible. Have a plan for what you’ll do after viewing the film. Try not to watch just before bed.
During the film
If you experience any physical or emotional reactions, take a moment away from the film, mute the sound or pause the film, and try to shift focus from what you are seeing. Perhaps instead think about the purpose of the film and what can potentially be done to address the issues highlighted. Take a few breaths and come back to the film when you feel ready. Others find grounding techniques helpful, for instance putting both your feet on the ground. If you feel shocked, cover the screen, mute the sound, or skip sections of the video.
After the film
Process the themes of the film in a way that suits you. That can include talking with family and friends about the film and/or doing further research into the issues explored in the film you would like to know more about. Or, plan activities after the film that you find relaxing like taking a walk, watching something lighter, reading a favorite book, exercise, cooking, or connecting with family and friends.
Suggested Action Steps
If you feel moved to take action on the issues covered in the films you’ve watched in this year’s festival.
Read HRW’s latest report on the issue: A Threshold Crossed, Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution (April 2021)
Follow HRW’s Omar Shakir on Twitter to stay informed about the latest updates and policy requests.
Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY) interrupts cycles of violence and incarceration by promoting RJ practices and policies in schools, communities, and the juvenile justice system.
The Osborne Association works in partnership with individuals, families, and communities to create opportunities for people affected by the criminal justice system to further develop their strengths and lead lives of responsibility and contribution.
We Got Us Now is a nonprofit (501c3) nonpartisan advocacy organization amplifying the issues children and young adults with incarcerated parents face due to mass incarceration.
Famm Foundation is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uplifting the voices of impacted families & individuals.
MomsRising is an on-the-ground and online grassroots organization of more than a million people who are working to increase family economic security, decrease discrimination against women and moms, and to build a nation where businesses and families can thrive.
Black Mama’s Bail Out is an organization working to reunite families and resist mass incarceration by fighting to end money bail & pretrial detention.
Essie Justice Group is a nonprofit organization of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration.
Philly Bailout is dedicated to ending cash bail and freeing those who are incarcerated because they can’t afford it.
Read HRW’s latest report on the issue: Left Undefended, Killings of Rights Defenders in Colombia’s Remote Communities (Feb 2021)
Drug Policy Alliance is the nation’s leading organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health & human rights.
The film has provided recommended resources and organizations that may help you better engage in dialogues about the many issues currently facing Americans and Native Americans including cultural identity, tribal sovereignty, ICWA, adoption, recovery communities, and more.
National Indian Law Library - A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act
To learn more about National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), please sign up for their email list on the website.
Here is a list of the film’s recommended reading
INCLUDEnyc is the leading source of free training and information for young people ages 0-26 with known or suspected disabilities, their parents, and the professionals who support them.
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network’s mission is to provide community, support, and resources for Autistic women, girls, transfeminine and transmasculine nonbinary people, trans people of all genders, Two Spirit people, and all others of marginalized genders.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization committed to covering the effort to improve schools for all children. Follow them on social media + sign up for their email list to learn about policy issues affecting education access for kids with disabilities in your state.
Disability Rights Education + Defense Fund is a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities.
PEN America is an advocacy organization working to protect the rights of journalists/ writers worldwide.
The Committee to Protect Journalists promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.
Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma studies and teaches informed, innovative and ethical reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy.
- Read a related HRW Article: In Germany, Anti-Semitism Creeps into Covid-19 Protests
Read a related HRW Article: Thousands of Foreigners Unlawfully Held in NE Syria
Read Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS - book by Azadeh Moaveni
Read Shamima Begum is a victim of trafficking – and the UK should treat her as such by Maya Foa, The Guardian
Sign on with Human Rights Watch to push for Reparations Now.
Take action with Color of Change, the nation’s largest racial justice organization.
BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100) is a national, member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating freedom & justice for all Black people through a Black Queer Feminist Lens.