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Human Rights Watch is widely recognized for their in-depth investigations, informed policy recommendations, and ability to generate intense pressure to confront human rights abusers and defend basic freedoms… efforts I have always been tremendously interested in and admired from afar… but now it really hits home (literally) as they host their 7th Annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival here in the great city of chicago!

Thursday, June 3rd  begins an 8 day series of screenings focusing on some of the most pressing human rights issues of our time, for a total of 9 unbelievable films. Beginning the festival is “The Oath” (video clip above), a critically acclaimed piece directed by Laura Poitras. “The Oath” tells the story of Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard and Salim Hamdan, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay Prison – it is described as a “family drama about two men whose fateful encounter in 1996 set them on a journey that would lead to Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay Prison and the U.S. Supreme Court.”  

The other 8 films cover topics ranging from Burmese reporters risking their lives to expose the repressive regime controlling their country to a Malian mother fighting to protect her 2 year old daughter from female genital cutting. All films were shot in the past 3 years so the subject matters are all current and very much so in need of being addressed. All in all, heavy stuff, but very real, and I am happy they felt chicago was a city that would make a great home for it all. Let me know which one you’re going to go see and why you chose it, I’m interested to hear what speaks to you and what human rights you fight for.

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