Document 8 and Africa in Motion
Two spirited local film festivals
The term ‘human rights cinema’ may sound too much like hard work for the average cinemagoer. But for the last seven years Document, the Glasgow-based International Human Rights Film Festival, has been demonstrating that films about human rights simply means films about people like you and me. Begun in 2003 with a focus on the lives of Glasgow asylum-seekers, Document’s reach has widened with each successive year.
This year’s opening film is Aisheen: Still Alive in Gaza (pictured), a gently powerful portrait of contemporary life in post-invasion Gaza. The film shows how precarious life is amidst the devastation. But Aisheen is no angry polemic; Swiss filmmaker Nicolas Wadimoff observes, mainly through focusing on young people, how life continues in a community where basic human rights have been denied.
Another key film in this year’s programme is Bloody Sunday: A Derry Diary, a remarkable first-hand account that follows the almost 40-year journey from the Derry massacre in 1972 to the long-delayed conclusion of the Bloody Sunday Enquiry earlier this year. Filmmaker Margo Harkin, who was an eyewitness to the devastating events and gave evidence in the tribunal, has assembled a film of incredible power that, through the measured accounts of each contributor, not only delivers a defiant shout in the face of injustice, but also offers a message of hope.
While Document is happening in Glasgow, the Africa in Motion Film Festival will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in Edinburgh, showing over 70 films drawn from 28 African countries. This year the theme of the festival is ‘celebrations’. Festival director Lizelle Bisschoff says, ‘first and foremost it’s an arts festival, celebrating brilliant African films, and that’s more important to us than any issue-based or worthy approaches to representing Africa.’ That approach is borne out by the programme, with highlights including the opening film, Sex, Okra and Salted Butter, from Cannes award-winner Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, a selection of music and dance-themed documentaries from across the continent and a special children’s workshop with Kenyan animator Alfred Muchilwa, lead animator on CBeebies’ Tinga Tinga Tales.
Document 8 Human Rights Film Festival, CCA, Glasgow Tue 26–Sun 31 Oct. Africa in Motion Film Festival, Filmhouse, Edinburgh Thurs 21 Oct–Fri 5 Nov.