Amnesty Int’l Helping Filmmakers for 60 Years

From Pardon Intl. was founded in 1961, sadly, there is no shortage of filmmakers who have been killed or persecuted for their work. Sixty years on, that danger remains.

In 1975, poet and director Pierpaolo Pasolini was murdered in Italy, possibly by the country’s secret service. More recently, in 2012, filmmaker and activist Bassel Shehadeh was shot down by the military in Syria, which subsequently prevented his friends from attending the funeral. Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, for whom Amnesty has organized a strong protest campaign, has been placed behind bars in China due to the 2008 documentary “Leaving Fear”. He was released in 2014 after serving a six-year sentence.

Of course, there are many more cases.

Recently, the Italian branch of Amnesty supported the distribution of “Nasrin” in Italy, a stealthily filmed documentary about Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is serving a 38-year sentence for the crimes. including “propaganda against the state”. She has “promoted the cause of political prisoners, against the death penalty and the obligation to wear the veil in public places,” said Amnesty Intl. Italian spokesman Riccardo Noury, who noted that the “Nasrin” scene in the documentary was filmed at great risk.

“Yes, of course filmmakers risk their lives to make films,” said Orwa Nyrabia, president of the multi-level Syrian council, based in Berlin. Intl. Union of filmmakers at risk (ICFR). He is also the artistic director of Intl. Documentary film Amsterdam Film Festival.

“They are not voluntary. It’s a choice, a commitment to their worldview, to their politics and their filmmaking.

“The problem is that various military regimes and authoritarian systems see a filmmaker as an enemy because filmmakers have opinions, and like other artists, they are, in essence, critical . They are non-compliant. This means they are good targets for a military regime to show the population that criticism is not welcome.”

In June, ICFR issued an urgent appeal to the Myanmar authorities to release local filmmaker Ma Aeint, producer and co-writer of the comedy “Money Has Four Legs”, paying his respects. important to the country’s cinematic history and its struggle with censorship. She disappeared without a trace on June 5 after being arrested by authorities in Yangon.

Nyrabia said: “We know the appeal has been heard. While not much else is happening so far, it’s important that Myanmar authorities know “they can’t do whatever they want without anyone noticing”.

Sometimes even when the pressure doesn’t seem to work, it still happens.

Nyrabia quotes Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was arrested and jailed in Russia on terrorism charges in 2014 and released in 2019 after a prolonged hunger strike amid protests by the country. Amnesty International is on the rise. and members of the entertainment industry. That campaign ensured that the Russian government understood “that he could not die under their supervision”.

The global film community and human rights groups are also calling for the release of Egyptian producer Moataz Abdelwahab. On May 5, 2020, he disappeared from his office in Cairo and has since been charged with “cooperating with a terrorist organization” and “spreading fake news” presumably because he carried out A number of cultural documentaries were purchased and broadcast on Al TV station. Jazeera, which is considered a national enemy of Egypt because of its sympathies with Muslim elements, especially the Muslim Brotherhood outlaws.

In Egypt, young director Shady Habash, who was seen as an emerging talent, died in prison in May 2020 after being jailed without trial for more than two years for making a music video mocking the president. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

The Egyptian government, which is under increasing pressure from human rights groups, recently provided concrete evidence of the power the global film community, especially Hollywood stars, can use. use.

In early December, three detained activists belonging to the Egyptian Initiative for Individual Rights (EIPR) were released from prison just a day after Scarlett Johansson called for their release in a quick video. started trending on social media in Egypt and was trusted by many people. was once an iron hook.

Nyrabia, who in addition to being a festival director and human rights defender is an actor, filmmaker and producer, recalls that when he was arrested at the Damascus Intl. Airport in 2012 and jailed by the Syrian authorities”Robert De Niro making a six-second video requires my freedom; I was released a week later.” A rare example of successful pressure on the Syrian government.

“Big stars have this power that they can use in the most meaningful way,” Nyrabia said. He firmly believes that “it is very important that they realize this power they have; And it’s not just about politics. It’s about people and being part of a supportive film community. “



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