The Lebanese NGO “Art Factory 961” launched today the third edition of "Karama Beirut Human Rights Film Festival" under the theme “Free the Word,” at a press conference held at Metropolis, Empire Sofil. The festival, held in cooperation with the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC Beirut) and the embassies of Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands in Lebanon, runs from 17 to 20 July 2018 at Metropolis Empire Sofil.
The conference featured statements by H.E. Ambassador of Czech Republic to Lebanon Ms. Michaela Froňková, and festival director Haytham Chamass. The festival’s program manager Najwa Kondakji presented the films that will be screened during the four-day period.
Froňková opened the event by recalling that the Czech Republic has always been a strong advocate of respect for freedom of expression, independent media and free access to information. In 1993 the Czechs adopted a new constitution and the Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms, which guaranteed freedom of expression and did not permit censorship. She added that the Czech Republic, albeit a young country, has a rich history, for it has outlived a history of oppression and censorship to become stronger, and in fact one of the freest countries in the world. Hence, Fronkova added, “It´s not really surprising that my country has strongly supported the 3rd edition of this international film festival with its leading theme ‘Free the Word.’” She concluded by wishing the team all the best for the event, adding that as the Czech ambassador in Lebanon, she will do her best to support the launch of the 4th edition of the festival next year.
In his statement, Chamass said that the festival returns for the third time to “raise outstanding issues in local human rights culture, such as the increasing cases of censorship of knowledge and expression, many of which have recently emerged in legal and conventional form.” “Freedom of expression is not only about addressing skewed understanding of constitutions, but is also about addressing damage to human dignity, one of the rights institutionalized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," he added. Chamass continued: “Here we stand not only as observers, but as victims whose human dignity has been violated through the confiscation of their right to knowledge and expression with the increase in censorship decisions and decrees.” He concluded by thanking UNIC Beirut and the three embassies for their cooperation in organizing the third edition of the festival, which aims to promote respect for human rights.
For her part, Kondakji presented the festival programme (attached), which includes 16 films from Lebanon, the Arab World, Europe, America, and Asia, including seven long documentaries, four short documentaries and five short feature films, followed by a panel discussion and Q&As. The programme also includes a forum which addresses freedom of expression in Lebanon.
Each year the festival hosts a number of distinguished guests from Lebanon and the Arab world in the fields of art and direction. The following are some of the guests of the third edition:
Mickey Yamine: Director of Gaza Surf Club - Germany
Albaqer Jafeer: Director of The Band - Iraq
Nayla El A’ech, Raafat Zakout: Protagonists of Naila and the Uprising -Palestine
Rula Salameh: Producer of Naila and the Uprising - Palestine
Alfoz Tanjour: Director of A Memory in Khaki - Syria
Leen Al Fayssal: Director of The Borrowed Dress - Syria
Moshira Farouk: Cultural & theatrical distribution manager - MAD Solutions
Basma Farhat - Director of The Shield that I Carry - Lebanon
Milad Amin -Director of Land of Doom - Syria
Gloria Tauk: Director of Rondo - Lebanon
Karim Al Rahbani: Director of Cargo - Lebanon
Karama Beirut Human Rights Film Festival (KBHRFF) is a film event that contributes, among other well-established and renowned human rights film festivals in the world, to spreading a cinema that denounces racism, hate discourse, discrimination and injustice. The 1st edition of KBHRFF was held in 2016 under the theme “The Others,” and aimed to raise awareness on the rights of refugees and minorities in Lebanon and the Arab World. The 2nd edition in 2017 addressed the theme “New Identities” and focused on human rights content.
The 3rd edition aims to support free expression that is liberated from traditional official models, as well as remind the public that censorship and exploitation of artistic work stands in the way of practicing our human rights, the same rights that our countries have agreed to protect. It is our duty to preserve the positive spirit of creativity and to avoid the spectre of repression.