‘To Be Human’: Films for Human Rights
Films that tell stories on human rights took center stage last December in an online festival to celebrate a milestone document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was crafted 72 years ago.
Today, in the Philippines, “human rights has become one of the most contentious topics,” Danika Sarion, Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) project officer, said. In this context, Wolfgang Heinze, FNF country director, pointed out that the films aim to “strengthen the discussion on human rights, and contribute to the public’s understanding of human rights.”
Seventeen films from the EU and the Philippines were screened in an event dubbed “To Be Human: A Human Rights Film Screening Special” organized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) with the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, and the Commission on Human Rights.
“The platform of films and documentaries in the country allows ordinary people to have a window into the lives and experiences of other fellow Filipinos,” Kiri Dalena, a Filipino filmmaker, said during the talkback session.
She stressed that “the work shouldn’t end in the films” and encouraged artists to participate in discussions not only within their networks but with different sectors as well.
Chiara Catteneo, a European filmmaker, emphasized that this is where the “power of art” comes in, “to start a conversation, to occupy space and to focus public discourse” on human rights.
In the Philippines, government restrictions compromised some freedoms thus “shrinking the civic or democratic space in the country,” Tom Temprosa, a lawyer and director for the human rights education and promotions office of the Commission on Human Rights, said. “The pandemic shows that human rights are not just about civil rights but also economic and social rights.”
Winning entries from the 2018 FNF Philippines’ #Freedom Mov_e, a film-making competition and festival that features super-short films of any genre which translate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into timely narratives, graced the festival:
- “Hayop” by Maki Liwanag, 2018 grand winner in open category, satirically tells the story of an unfortunate journey of one who is captured and accused of insurgency.
- “Panata” by Gian Arre, 2018 grand winner in student category, shows how a student, blindfolded at the principal's office, must recite the lines of the Philippine patriotic oath flawlessly or suffer further punishment from her school principal.
- “I Believe” by Sean Russel Estrella, 2018 finalist, is a documentary about the life of a transgender who has to overcome discrimination in her profession.
FNF Philippines, in its human rights education program, engages in story-telling through films to reach out to new and wider audiences.