August 19, 2007
The Journalists for Human Rights Film Festival, held this past weekend, was a terrific reminder of the reasons human rights need to be upheld.
I was able to take in 5 documentaries over the two days of films. A great dose of socially conscious reportage on human rights violations and the people affected by them.
The highlight was definitely Refugee Allstars, the story of Sierra Leoneans living in a UNHCR camp in neighbouring Guinea, who start a band to raise their spirits and those of fellow refugees, while telling their personal stories.
We follow the band from practice to shows in camp, to a tour of other camps and finally to a 'go-and-see' visit back to Sierra Leon that culminates in the recording of the band's first album.
Other movies that hit the mark are Shake Hands With the Devil, the story of Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda, and Uganda Rising, the story of the ongoing brutal conflict between government and rebel forces. We see the horrors of warfare and those caught in between. "When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers".
The film festival also provided me with a reprieve from work and a chance to see some friends in Accra. I had the opportunity to meet a few of the JHR people I hadn't met yet, some of whom are now leaving Ghana. One of the contacts I made was with Ryan Bolton, a JHR intern who's living in a Liberian refugee camp just outside of Accra. He told me about celebrations planned for Liberian flag day. I'll be there on Friday of this week...