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International Film Festival in Tunisia to Promote Human Rights

06 December 2012 | 0 Comments

“When cinema encounters human commitment, it’s the consciousness that lights up,” says Tunisian film director Elyes Baccar.

‘Lighting up the consciousness’ is precisely what the first ever Human Screen Festival in Tunisia hopes to accomplish among its audience this week.

“We want them to know their rights and be introduced to the culture of human rights through entertainment,” said Kais Ben Sedrine, charged with the Festival’s general organization and communications.

The Festival centers on the broad theme of human rights and will feature more than 35 films from different countries that touch upon critical subjects, such as immigration, women’s rights, and transitional justice.

It comes almost a month before the second anniversary of the Tunisian revolution and in the midst of the country’s current political transition from over two decades of dictatorship under former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

“This process can only be accompanied by a cultural change that encourages awareness and education in democratic values and respect for human rights,” reads a statement by the Festival.

In light of the historic changes that Tunisia has witnessed over the past two years, it is only fitting that the Human Screen Festival opens today with the Dutch film Die Welt that portrays Tunisia immediately after the revolution in 2011. It will be the first time that Die Welt is screened in the country.

Poster for Die Welt (Photo credit: Die Welt Film)

Die Welt’s protagonist, a young DVD seller Abdallah, manifests his frustration for greater self-realization in life. Such frustrations are not limited to just Abdallah but can represent those of thousands of other Tunisians, who are suffering from over 17% national unemployment as well as sluggish economic growth since the revolution.

The Human Screen Festival opens today at 7:15 p.m. with the screening of Die Welt at the Ibn Rashiq Cultural Center in downtown Tunis, and continues until Sunday, December 9.

Screenings will take place in Tunis and the provincial town of Sbeïtla, and are open to the public. Visitors will have to pay a two-dinar ($1.25) entrance fee in Tunis whereas entrance is for free in Sbeïtla.

An international four-person jury will judge the participating films, and decide upon a winner in the following categories: best feature-length film, best short film, and best Tunisian film.

According to Ben Sedrine, the original inspiration for the Human Screen Festival came after the creation of the Tunisian Cultural Association for Integration and Training (ACTIF), which both he and Baccar created. ACTIF’s main objective is to promote and support innovative cultural and artistic programs in Tunisia.

Amira Masrour contributed reporting

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