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Of people and wars

The second edition of the Flashpoint Human Rights Film Festival focuses on initiating a dialogue on human rights violations with 18 films, both feature and documentary, from around the world. Festival director Sridhar Rangayan tells us what to expect

Miral (2010)
112 Minutes
Director: Julian Schnabel
Part biopic and part fiction, the story begins with the tale of Hind Husseini, a Palestinian woman who rescues 55 orphans from being massacred during the civil war. She then converts her house into an orphanage to take care of them, which within a few months becomes home to more than 2,000 refugee children. One of these is Miral, a 10 year-old. After seven years, she is awakened to the realities of the strife that exist in Palestine. She must now decide to fight alongside her countrymen or persist with Mama Hind's defiant belief that education will pave a road to peace.
Sridhar Rangayan: "The parallel storylines of two powerful women from different eras, told through a beautifully shot film is something I am looking forward to. It is also a pertinent film on human right violation during the time of war."

You Don't Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo (2010)
100 minutes
Director: Luc Cote & Patricio Henriquez
Omar Ahmed Khadr was convicted of five charges under the United States Military commission in October 2010, when he was 24. When his wounded body was discovered in Afghanistan, he was 16 years old. Prior to him being convicted, Omar had been imprisoned in Guant namo Bay for eight years without trial. This is a tale of four days of his life here, as he is interrogated by Canadian and US officials. The film comprises surveillance footage in which Omar is coerced by the interrogators to confess to the US official version of events that led to his capture; even if it means to lie and to tell them merely what they want to hear.
Sridhar Rangayan: "This could easily be one of the most disturbing films which anyone will ever see. The film is all the more relevant because, we never assume that such atrocities can be committed by a developed country, let alone two of the most powerful democracies in the world."

In Search of My Home (2010)
30 minutes
Director: Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas
Sheltering one of the largest refugee populations in the world, India still lacks a comprehensive domestic refugee law that could guarantee them their basic human needs and a life of dignity. In Search of My Home is a short film about the journey of a Burmese and an Afghan family as it explores the complexities in their everyday battle for survival. Shot on a shoestring budget with very innovative combination of live-action and photography the film has won Best Documentary Film and Best Director at The Short and Documentary Film Festival of Hyderabad 2010.
Sridhar Rangayan: "I especially recommend this film because sometimes in film festivals with feature length films, short films tend to lose their voice. Especially because, it speaks about an omnipresent topic in India, which surprisingly very few are aware of. It is also quite beautifully shot."

Cameroon: Coming out of the Nkuta (2009)
52 minutes
Director: Celine Metzger
Homosexuality in Cameroon is an offence punishable by up to five years in prison. Probably the most prolific individuals in the country's struggle for equal rights are optimistic lawyer Alice Nkom and her first client Lambert. Together, they start the Group for Families with Homosexual Children to work within the legal system as well as the community to educate people and dispel stereotypes about homosexuality.
Sridhar Rangayan: "The poverty and strife which plague African nations, often overshadows the other human rights issues in the country. It is very interesting to have an insight on a country with legal penalties on homosexuality, when even Indian society has so much trouble wrapping its heads around it."

Mee Sindhutai Sakpal (2010)
110 minutes
Director: Anant Mahadevan
Sindhutai Sakpal is a Marathi social worker. Her work to raise orphans as her own has earned her the title 'Anathanchi Mai', which translates to a Mother of Orphans. When she conceived a baby, her husband threw her out of the house accusing her of adultery. It was at this juncture that she decided to become a mother, not only to her own child but also other abandoned children who came to her for sustenance. Her trauma made her a charismatic speaker and soon she began to fund her orphanage.
Sridhar Rangayan: "Mee Sindhutai Sakpal is quite a well-known film in Maharashtra but is unfortunately not as popular outside. It is a great story of human spirit, and deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. "

This year's festival also features panel discussions with filmmaker Nandita Das and Pallav Patankar from the Humsafar Trust.

From: December 8 to 10
At: Alliance Francaise de Bombay , 40, New Marine Lines Road
Entry: Free; registration at the venue.

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