Nadia Murad & Ban Ki-moon open the Human Rights Film Festival Berlin 2020

The current corona pandemic has highlighted existing social inequalities, the consequences of climate change and human rights issues in a unique way. Against this background, we have decided, despite all the challenges, to run the Human Rights Film Festival Berlin as a hybrid on- and offline event in 2020. Honorary patron human of this edition will be human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad. Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold the opening speech.

With our selection of films, we are once again highlighting stories from around the world that deal with fundamental questions of democracy, justice, freedom, environment, wars and conflicts. The festival of Action against Hunger is once again organized in cooperation with Save the Children and NRC Flüchtlingshilfe. As cross-cutting themes, the three organising NGOs have set further priorities with their own film series: in the areas of humanitarian aid, children's rights and stories of flight. In addition, the festival is accompanied for the first time by a Human Rights Film Forum, which offers a discussion platform for various actors on topics related to empowerment, populism and fake news, the climate crisis and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

It is a special pleasure for us to present the first films from the 2020 programme today:

Hernán Zin
ES I 80 min I 2018 I German Premiere

What does it mean to be hungry? Unfiltered, women worldwide, equipped with smartphones, show what their daily fight against poverty and hunger means. Told by the affected people themselves, BATTLE OF THE GIANTS provides insights into the lives of people around the world who are directly affected by hunger. But the film also shows us what solutions there might be and how we can work together to achieve a world without hunger.

Jules Giraudat, Arthur Bouvart, Alexis Marant
208 min I FR I 2019 I German Premiere

In an era of eroded journalism, fragmented audiences and consolidated corporate power, 40 journalists from 15 countries work together to tackle a series of stories bigger than nations. An unprecedented collaborative investigation that uncovers the dangerous practices of three mining companies operating in India, Guatemala and Tanzania, Green Blood exposes crimes against humanity and the environment. Taking a behind-the-scenes approach, international journalists support the work of local reporters who have been threatened, jailed or killed as the result of their pursuit of the truth.

Diane Neille & Richard Poplak
105 min I ZA, CA I 2020 I German Premiere

This story of influence and weaponized communication centers on the infamous Lord Tim Bell and his associates, known for their controversial geopolitical spin-doctoring. Bell, who started his career in advertising, had an affinity for difficult briefs and “people with problems,” as he liked to call them. He designed campaigns for unpopular politicians, dictators, disgraced companies, and celebrities the same way he put together product branding—by being concise and brutal. In 1987 he cofounded Bell Pottinger, which quickly became one of the most influential reputation-management companies in the world—until one of those campaigns incited racial division in South Africa and ruined BP’s reputation to a degree beyond spinning. Its cause of death was shrewdly described by the New York Times as “acute embarrassment.”

Carol Dysinger
2019 I UK I 40 min

Over the course of 15 years, a class of young girls from disadvantaged neighborhoods in war-torn Kabul, learn to read and write, and grow together in confidence through the joy of skateboarding.

Jane Magnusson
SE I 2020 I 95 min I German Premiere

Madeline Stuart is a fashion celebrity who has walked the runway at the New York Fashion Week, has 700 000+ followers on Facebook and is covered by international media world wide. This documentary follows Madeline on her journey to becoming the world’s first professional supermodel with Down syndrome, challenging our perception of identity, beauty and disability.

Joe Piscatella
USA I 2019 I 70 min I German Premiere

After the patriotic themes of her first hit song launch her to stardom in Vietnam, Mai Khoi’s personal and artistic growth places her and those around her in jeopardy. A shift from pop star to activist sees Khoi run for office, advocate for women’s rights and sit down with President Barack Obama. Her aspirations to release an album with her new band, The Dissidents, are challenged by looming retaliation by the authoritarian Vietnamese regime, leading the young activist to take drastic measures.

Claudia Sparrow
US, PE I 2019 I 88 min  

Maxima tells the incredible story of 2016 environmental Goldman Prize winner Máxima Acuña and her family, who own a small, remote plot in the Peruvian Highlands. The Acuñas rely solely on the environment for their livelihood, but their land sits directly in the path of a multi-billion dollar project run by one of the world’s largest gold-mining corporations. Faced with intimidation, violence, and criminal prosecution, we follow Máxima’s tireless fight for justice, taking her from the Peruvian Supreme Court to the doors of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Standing ever mighty, Máxima sings of her love of the land in the face of widespread oppression of indigenous people, and relentless attempts to destroy environmental resources that the world relies on.

Boris B. Bertram
DE, FI I 2019 I 78 Min

Jan Grarup lives a life in a state of emergency. As a war photographer, he often risks his life, while back in Copenhagen, he is a father of four. He suddenly finds himself the sole parent when his ex-wife falls seriously ill with cancer. His work in the urban war zone of Mosul, where he follows the advance of the Iraqi forces against Islamic State, must be balanced with his life as a sole provider. Jan has to rebuild the trust of his children after many years of living a fleeting lifestyle, but he still wishes to be the best war photographer in the world. How do roadside bombs and snipers fit into being responsible for four children? The film is a psychological portrait of a man that has documented the horrors of war for 25 years, but who suddenly has to face a new, internal struggle.

Géraldine André, Stéphane Santini
CH I 58 min I 2019 I German Premiere

War, emergencies, pandemics or famine: All over the world, people working in humanitarian aid are used to extreme situations and potentially lethal danger. Selfish interviews forty men and women. They give intimate insights into their motivations, but also about helplessness, relationships, passion, returning home and the difficulty of talking about the unspeakable. The film also explores the question of whether selfishness is not a prerequisite for becoming a humanitarian worker. What room for doubt remains when someonedecides to leave the mission? And to what extent does the image conveyed by the humanists build on a colonial or even a missionary dimension?

Joris Postema
NL I 2020 I 95 min I International Premiere

A growing group of young adults in the Democratic Republic of Congo are resisting the western one-sided reporting about their country; reporting that only shows stereotypical images of war, violence, illness and poverty. Such images do not reflect the reality in which they live in.
STOP FILMING US follows three young Congolese photographers and filmmakers who want to capture their own images of Congo and its people. The film questions whether Western filmmakers are able to capture anything of truth about this complex, damaged and beautiful country at all. Or do Western ‘good intentions’ only cause harm and frustration?


Sam Soko
KE I 2019 I Englisch I German Premiere

After years of fighting injustice in Kenya, daring and audacious political activist Boniface “Softie” Mwangi decides to run for political office. But running a clean campaign against corrupt opponents with idealism as his only weapon proves challenging.

Accreditation for the 2020 film festival starts mid-August. The complete film programme will be online at the beginning of September, when the official ticket sales will start.

10. AUGUST 2020