The United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) is holding its 11th annual exhibition, originally conceived to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The festival demonstrates how powerful films can be when dealing with human rights, environmental themes, women’s issues, protection of refugees, homelessness, racism, education, war, and peace. Below are documentaries from the UNAFF focusing on issues affecting in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan.
My Daughter the Terrorist (Sri Lanka/USA) (58 minutes)This documentary is an exceedingly rare, inside look at an organization that most of the world has blacklisted as a terrorist group. Made by the first foreign film crew to be given access to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) of Sri Lanka, the film offers insights into the recently reignited conflict in Sri Lanka. Twenty-four-year-olds Dharsika and Puhalchudar have been living and fighting side by side for seven years as part of LTTE’s elite force, the Black Tigers. The women describe heartbreaking traumas they both experienced at the hands of the Sri Lankan army, which led them to join the guerrilla forces. This even-handed documentary sheds light on the reasons that the Tamil Tigers continue their bloody struggle for independence while questioning their tactics.
Megalopolis (Brazil/China/Egypt/Italy/Japan/Pakistan/USA) (112 minutes)Stunningly filmed, Megalopolis is an exploration of six of the world’s largest urbaan centers. They are complex but also very fragile systems in which people daily confront problems of livability in relation to growth, as well as employment issues, pollution, crime, security, exclusion, and poverty. This documentary draws on science fiction to tell its story. Megalopolis correlates the writing of famed science fiction authors with the realities of today, which is very often a more disturbing scenario then imagined by the writers.
FLOW: For Love of Water (Bolivia/Canada/France/India/USA) (94 minutes) Water is the essence of life, sustaining every being on this planet. But the global water supply isn’t just at risk; it’s already in crisis. FLOW: For Love of Water highlights the local intimacies of an emerging global catastrophe: African plumbers reconnect shantytown water pipes under cover of darkness to ensure a community’s survival; a Californian scientist forces awareness of shockingly toxic public water sources; a “Big Water” CEO argues privatization is the wave of the future; a ‘Water Guru’ in India sparks new community-water initiatives in hundreds of villages; a Canadian author uncovers the corporate profiteering that drives global water business. With an unflinching focus on politics, pollution and human rights, FLOW: For Love of Water ensures that the precarious relationship between humanity and water can no longer be ignored.
Salim Baba (India/USA) (15 minutes)Salim Muhammad is a 55-year-old man who lives in North Kolkata, India with his wife and five children. Since the age of 10, he has made a living by screening discarded film scraps for the kids in his surrounding neighborhoods using a hand-cranked projector that he inherited from his father. Salim runs his projector with his sons in the hopes that they will carry on his legacy of showing films to the local children.
Taxi to the Dark Side (Afghanistan/Iraq/UK/USA) (106 minutes)
Winner of the Oscar for documentary feature, Taxi to the Dark Side is a gripping investigation into the reckless abuse of power by the Bush Administration. A documentary murder mystery that examines the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base, the film exposes a worldwide policy of detention and interrogation that condones torture and the abrogation of human rights. This disturbing film is the most incisive examination to date of the Bush Administration’s willingness to undermine the essence of the rule of law.
The Linguists (Bolivia/India/Russia/USA) (70 minutes)
Half the world’s languages are on the verge of extinction. Who will record them before they’re gone? Two scientists race to document languages soon to be extinct. In Sirberia, India, and Bolivia, The Linguists confront head-on the very forces silencing language: institutionalized racism and violent economic unrest. Both funny and enlightening, the film is an amazing cultural journey to some of the most obscure linguistic niches of our planet.
Frontrunner (Afghanistan/USA) (90 minute)
Amidst death threats and bomb attacks, Dr. Massouda Jalal doggedly campaigns from the back of a taxi, in mosques, in homes, and in the streets. Her courage shows that it’s the dangerous work done by ordinary Afghans—women and men—that will determine the fate of a newly born democracy. As a children’s advocate, she defied the Taliban regime. Now, she boldly runs for president.
Oct. 19-26. Stanford University, Palo Alto. For showtimes, visitwww.unaff.org/2008. (650) 724-5544. [email protected].