"Talking Humanity" is the new conversation series of the Human Rights Film Festival Berlin. Together with our partners, we invite internationally renowned personalities to discuss current issues. With its minimalist format, the series deliberately offers a counterpoint to the flood of news and invites the audience to take an in-depth look at selected issues alongside the experts. Together we want to examine the topics from different perspectives, discuss them in a controversial way and, above all, contribute to an open dialogue.

The talks will take place in 2023 at the Documentation Centre for Displacement, Expulsion, Reconciliation at Anhalter Bahnhof. Exact details will follow in early September.


12. October - On the Frontlines: The Essential Role of Journalism in Wars and Crises

We will plunge into the rough and often perilous world of war and crisis journalism, coming to understand the irreplaceable role played by on-site reporting in revealing the harsh realities of conflict and crisis zones to the world. Our esteemed panel of experienced journalists and experts will explore the importance of journalism as a form of bearing witness – as well as the importance of the work done by local journalists to bring these stories to international audiences. This panel will also touch on the documentary ‘20 Days in Mariupol,’ in which a team of Ukrainian AP journalists documents the atrocities of the Russian invasion in the city of Mariupol.

The panellists will share their first-hand experiences and insights into how journalism draws attention to the ordeals of people living through crises, offering real-time accounts of events that are often overlooked or misunderstood by international audiences. From the moral dilemma of frontline reporting to the challenges of conveying truth amidst chaos, this episode promises to go on a deep dive into the complex dynamics of war and crisis journalism. Who gets to tell the story? How is the story told? How does the reality of lived experience contrast with the narratives published by media organisations covering conflicts and crises?

Followed by: 20 Days in Mariupol

On the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a team of Ukrainian journalists from the Associated Press travels to the strategically important port city of Mariupol. When the city is besieged and attacked, the journalists are trapped. Bombs fall; inhabitants try to flee. Access to electricity, food, water and medicine is cut off. But the team struggles to document the atrocities of the Russian invasion and get their footage out to the public. As the only international reporters in the city, they capture what will later become the defining images of the war: dying children, mass graves, the bombing of a maternity clinic and more. They directly refute Putin’s disinformation. But Russia’s soldiers are after them.

13. October - The Ethical Dilemma: When Child Soldiers Become Perpetrators

Dominic Ongwen was nine years old when the Lord's Resistance Army abducted him from his parents' home in Gulu, Uganda. He was tortured, brainwashed and forced to kill. About thirty years later, Ongwen is being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. The documentary ‘Theatre of Violence’ tells his story. Unpacking the world's first legal investigation into the culpability of former child soldiers, we are confronted with a complex ethical question: When does a victim become a perpetrator? With expert insights and thought-provoking debates, we will explore the philosophical dimensions and moral ambiguities of this question – not only in this case but in general. We aim to shed light on the interplay between social norms, justice systems and individual experiences of coerced violence. This dialogue should be viewed as both an intellectual inquiry and an invitation for us all to ponder the complexities inherent to human conflict and the quest for justice.

Media partner: ARTE

Followed by: Theater of Violence

Dominic Ongwen was nine years old when the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan terrorist group, abducted him and killed his parents. Joseph Kony’s guerrillas tortured and brainwashed him and forced him to kill. Thirty years later, Ongwen turned himself in to the authorities. Now he has become the first former child soldier to be charged with crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The charges range from murder and rape to torture and slavery. But can the adult man be separated from his traumatic past in order to convict him? Can someone be both victim and perpetrator? This is the central question for Krispus Ayena, who is appointed to defend Ongwen in the most high-profile case of his career.

14. October - Breaking the Silence: Confronting Femicide and Gender Violence

Despite the advances that have been made internationally, we still live in a world where gender violence is often downplayed or overlooked, raising profound moral, philosophical and political questions. Leveraging insights from a panel of journalists and other experts, this discussion will uncover the complexities and biases inherent to the media coverage of these crimes, including the disturbing trend towards the reversal of perpetrator-victim narratives. In line with our commitment to ‘talking humanity,’ we aim to shed light on the lived experiences of those affected by such violence, thereby challenging the status quo. Our talk will underscore how urgently we need to confront the societal norms and legal shortcomings that allow such violence to endure. We will delve into how collective action could end femicide and gender violence, foster a culture of zero tolerance and transform our societies for the better. This dialogue will call on each of us to critically engage with these uncomfortable truths and be the catalysts for a shift towards a world that is safer and more equitable for women. This panel will be followed by the documentary ‘My Name is Happy,’ which tells the inspiring story of Kurdish teenager Mutlu Kaya, who loses her sister and almost her own life by femicide – and yet does not let her voice be taken away.

Media partner: Lila Podcast

Followed by: My Name is Happy

My Name Is Happy - Filmstill

Mutlu Kaya is just 19 when her dream of making it as a singer comes close enough to touch: she is about to enter the finale of the TV show ‘Turkey’s Got Talent’. But then, a man guns down the Kurdish teenager. His motive: Mutlu rejected his marriage proposal. She barely survives and is left with a bullet in her head. After weeks in a coma, Mutlu takes her first tentative steps back into life, supported by her beloved sister Dilek. But five years later, a phone call hits Mutlu harder than anything that has come before: her sister Dilek has been murdered by her fiancé. Mutlu is now fighting not just for her own recovery but for justice for her sister. She is also fighting against the normalisation of violence against women. Ultimately, Mutlu wants to sing again, for Dilek.

15. October - Pursuing Peace: A Holistic Perspective

Peace for humankind is a multifaceted concept. Climate justice, gender equity and migration are integral to understanding and achieving long-lasting peace. Our panel of experts will shed light on issues like these, grappling with the critical question: What is the price of peace? Weaving together first-hand experiences and insightful analyses, this discussion will also touch on the costs and sacrifices that are often overlooked in our pursuit of harmony. Through a holistic lens, we will scrutinise not just the tangible but also the emotional and societal costs of securing peace. This dialogue aims to redefine the concept of peace, viewing it more than merely the absence of conflict and demonstrating both its complexity and how important multiple dimensions of justice are in fostering a peaceful world. This panel will be followed by the documentary ‘This Kind of Hope’ about diplomat Andrei Sannikov, who has dedicated his life to restoring democracy in Belarus.

Partner: Greenpeace

Followed by: This Kind of Hope

Diplomacy is Andrei Sannikov’s life. In the 1990s, he was instrumental in disarming Belarus and decommissioning the world’s most dangerous nuclear arsenal. Under Lukashenko’s dictatorship, he resigned from the civil service in protest and took the dangerous path of opposition. After the unexplained death of his closest comrade, he ran against Lukashenko in the presidential race. But the elections were rigged, and Andrei Sannikov was arrested, tortured and put in solitary confinement. He now lives in exile in Warsaw, where he continues to fight for his dream of a free and democratic Belarus. But Sannikov has to weigh up every word he says – knowing that people in Belarus could be tortured or killed for it.

16. October - Battles Beyond the Battlefield: Safeguarding Girls’ Education in Conflict Zones

In the chaos of war, education becomes a lifeline, often disproportionately denied to girls. Our panel will feature experienced journalists and humanitarian experts, who will provide a multifaceted perspective on the intersection of war, gender inequality and educational challenges. We will delve into the moral, political and logistical obstacles to providing education in conflict scenarios, spotlighting ongoing efforts to maintain girls’ access to learning. In this talk, we will be inviting our international audience to engage with the complex reality of these issues. It will be a call to take action to safeguard the universal right to education, particularly for girls living in the shadow of conflict.

Partner: Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

Followed by: Children of the Taliban

This film tells the stories of four children in Kabul. The two boys, best friends, are the sons of high-ranking members of the Taliban. The girls have lost their fathers and now have to clean shoes to support their families.

17. October - Hunger as a Weapon of War: How Violent Conflicts Lead to Hunger

Hunger is one of war’s deadliest weapons: it causes untold suffering and destroys the lives of millions. Armed conflicts force people to flee, destroy crops and lead to famine. In crisis regions, starvation is systematically used as a weapon of war. Eighty-five percent of people suffering from acute hunger live in conflict regions! International law provides a clear framework for how the parties to a conflict must behave in order to protect civilians. With UN Resolution 2417, the international community has recognised its responsibility to protect civilians from hunger in conflicts. These commitments must be upheld. In this panel, we want to talk to experts about the connections between war, conflict and hunger – and about the measures that can be taken to reduce conflict-related hunger.

Partner: Aktion gegen den Hunger

Followed by: Le Spectre de Boko Haram

While the other children play with clay in the classroom, Falta lets her gaze wander out the window: soldiers patrol the schoolyard, machine guns at the ready, gunshots ringing out in the distance. In the far north of Cameroon, a constant threat lurks in the mountains. Since 2014, the terrorist organisation Boko Haram has been attacking the village of Kolofata, committing brutal acts of violence. They also killed Falta’s father. But Falta tries to live with the loss; she is studious and hardworking. Meanwhile, the two brothers Mohammed and Ibrahim have no desire to go to school. They would much rather romp around laughing loudly or march across the fields like soldiers. But when asked where their parents are now, they fall silent. And at some point, the two boys themselves disappear.

21. SEPTEMBER 2023