The Lebanese NGO “Art Factory 961” launched Thursday evening the fifth edition of "Karama Beirut Human Rights Film Festival" under the theme “Occupy the Void” at the Sunflower Theatre, Tayyoueh, Beirut. The festival is held in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC Beirut), with the support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation, “Taawon” NGO and the embassy of the Czech Republic in Lebanon.
The conference featured statements by Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Lebanon Jiří Doležel and Festival Director Haytham Chamass.
In his statement, Doležel said that the Czech Embassy is proud to be a partner of the Karama Beirut Human Rights Film Festival for the third time in its young history. He congratulated Art Factory 961 and its team on their efforts to organize the festival in these difficult and challenging times when several alternatives have been considered to make this festival happen. “The Karama festival is a partner of the One World International, the largest human rights film festival in the world organized every year in the Czech Republic. We were happy to see Mr. Chamass as a member of the jury at the One World festival in 2020,” Doležel said. Referring to this year’s festival edition that focuses on civil society and the power of youth and their ambitions for social and political change, for equal and full political and public participation, Doležel said, “Lebanon is going through very difficult times at the moment. I believe the civil society and young people have a crucial role to play in shaping the future of your beautiful country.”
“We are pleased to see that the Karama festival is striving to be part of the process of promoting awareness of human rights, dignity and active citizenship through its format that includes not only the screenings of the films, but also the follow-up discussions,” he added.
For his part, Chamass said the Karama-Beirut Human Rights Festival, in its fifth edition, seeks to invite young men and women who represent the future generation not to give up and surrender to the sectarian and clientelist system prevailing in Lebanon, but rather to adopt a rights-based culture that correlates to their social awareness and be deeply involved in social and political change. “It is clear that young generations aspire to reconcile with the past and move forward, towards a future free from the sectarian system (…) No living people can surrender..we have to respond..we have to resist..we have to awaken our young men and women, they are the future and we have hope,” Chamass said. He concluded by calling on everyone to occupy the void left by the pre-citizenship culture.
The festival runs from 23 to 26 September at Sunflower Theatre and features 21 films, including five long feature films and four long documentaries, three short feature films and three short documentaries, followed by Q&As. (Program attached)
To encourage young filmmakers, Karama - Beirut Festival presents six films for Syrian refugees produced by the “Action for Hope Film School,” three of which are documentaries, while the three others are fictions. 18 films will be premiered for the first time in Lebanon. Those were produced in several countries, namely: Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Qatar, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic, the United States, and Australia.
As part of the festival, two free-of-charge master classes for students will take place: the first one will be given by university professor Najwa Kandakji and tackles “Ways to express revolution in cinema” while the second class by writer Najib Nseir and is titled “Citizen's Rights in Dramatic Writing”.
2021 Festival Guests
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 fifth edition:
Manal Khaled: Director - Trapped - Egypt
Carol Mansour: Director - Shattered Beirut 6.07- Lebanon
Ahmad Ghosein: Director – All This Victory - Lebanon
Charlotte Schwarzinger: Executive Producer - Gaza Mon Amour - France
Daizy Gedeon: Director - ENOUGH! Lebanon’s Darkest Hour – Australia/Lebanon
Adam Hribal: Caught in the Net - Czech Republic
Mohammad Ali Atassi: Director – Here we are - Syria
Joude Gorani: Director - Here we are - Syria
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, while the 2nd edition in 2017 addressed the theme “New Identities” and focused on new identities conflict. The 3rd edition, held in 2018 under the motto “Free the Word,” aimed to support the freedom of expression that is liberated from traditional official models, while the fourth edition, held in 2019 under the theme “Talk to Her,” fell under the framework of the Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality.