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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » November 25, 2011
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Watch Docs: Human Rights in Focus
November 25, 2011   
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The 11th Watch Docs International Film Festival—one of the world’s two largest such festivals focusing on human rights—begins Dec. 8 in Warsaw.

Spanning 10 days, the festival will feature almost 90 documentaries from across the globe. Festival screenings will take place at the Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art, the Muranów and Kultura cinemas, and the Old University Library.

The winner of this year’s Marek Nowicki Award, given to documentary makers for outstanding achievements in portraying human rights on film, is Zhao Liang from China, the director of documentaries such as Crime and Punishment and Petition. A panel of 10 critics voted Petition the Watch Docs documentary of the decade. Zhao Liang will be a special guest of the festival and all his films will be shown during the event.

Documentaries contending for this year’s Watch Docs award were made in 2010-2011 and are the world’s best productions tackling various aspects of human rights. A total of 18 documentaries have been short-listed from among 1,200 entries. They include Tahrir Liberation Square about the revolution in Egypt in March, along with Italian documentary Il Castello, in which a major European airport serves as a metaphor for a Europe trying to stop a tidal wave of immigrants from the south. The contending titles will also include Pit No. 8, an Estonian documentary about a teenager from the Donbas coal mining area in Ukraine who provides for his entire family working in an illegal coal mine in his own yard.

The festival program also comprises four regular sections. I Want to See is an overview of documentaries about events, people and issues which human rights campaigners are most concerned about at the moment. This year’s Close-Up section will focus on Arab countries and include No More Fear, a documentary on the Tunisian revolution. The film premiered at the Cannes festival. The Discreet Charm of Propaganda section will feature war propaganda movies and the New Polish Films section will comprise some of the most interesting social documentaries.

The Watch Docs festival is a joint project by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw and the Social Institute of Film. Admission to all screenings and accompanying events is free. After the festival ends in Warsaw, it will go on tour in Poland, taking in 40 cities next year.
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