Human rights are universal–or so we’d like to believe. The debate rages on and on, and several brave filmmakers have taken to weighing in at this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, taking place this week. Here are two films deserving of attention as the meaning of the universality of rights for all continues to be in doubt for far too many.
You Resemble Me
Director: Dina Amer
In this harrowing and timely film from France, Mouna Soualem is Hasma, a Muslim Parisian woman from a broken home trying to make her way in the world. She tries to bury her pain in drugs, nightclubs and disconnected sex, but then her eyes are drawn in by online videos calling on French Muslims to eschew Western values entirely—and to rise up violently. Loosely based on the story of a real person who became entangled with the terror plot that resulted in so many deaths at the Charlie Hebdo offices in 2015, Dina Amer’s film mixes reenacements and some documentary footage to try to understand how someone could fall under the sway of such horror.
Directors: Maia Kenworthy and Elena Sanchez Bellot
Extinction Rebellion is a climate advocacy group in England whose theatrics have made them both notorious and stars of the environmental activism movement. This documentary follows several of their attempts to bring awareness to the issue of a dying planet, which often results in several of their members being sent to jail. But as the crisis worsens, several within the Extinction Rebellion believe the group is getting the wrong kind of attention, and presses for leadership change. Timely and sad, Rebellion proves yet again that the world cannot wait for humans to get their act together (featured image: filmmaker Dina Amer)
The Human Rights Watch Festival travels to several cities during the year, from London to Los Angeles, San Diego, Silicon Valley and Toronto. It took place in New York from May 20th to the 26th (more information)