When human rights violations are on the rise, the activists who advocate human dignity can not simply rest.
Innovative method and strenuous effort is required to protect human values. Exploring the film, media, and popular culture to a target audience is the way of ‘breakthrough’, a human rights organization. Breakthrough’s major event, Tri Continental Film Festival 2009 had been a great success, says Alika Khosla, associate director of breakthrough and director of Film Festival, in an email interview.
Alika spearheaded the Asia launch of the Tri Continental Film Festival. A diploma holder in Human Rights Law from the National Law School at Bangalore, she received her Masters in German in 1982 from Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The 5th Tri Continental toured in New Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, and Kolkata in January and February. The film discussed human rights issues across South America, Africa and Asia. Tri Continental Film festival was conceived by a group of Latin American film makers based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, called the ‘Movement do Documentalistas‘.
Breakthrough currently works in India and the United States, the world’s two largest democracies, on several issues including women’s rights, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice and immigrant rights.
|Alika Khosla, associate director of breakthrough:
“Through our media campaigns, we build awareness on issues of violence against women, HIV AIDS and sexuality. Our messaging is further strengthened by education at the ground level where we urge Community members and youth to become catalysts of change.”
While speaking the objectives of film festival, she has said that Tricontinental is an arts and cultural initiative that seeks to use the medium of cinema to high light human rights norms and practices. Through the films, Breakthrough hopes to highlight human rights concerns from around the world and encourage public discourse on preventing violations and abuse. The cinematic experience encounters and explores the narratives of violence, exploitation, destitution, apathy as well as internal turmoil’s of real people who are not at the core of these films.
The films discussed the Post-liberation democracies to gender empowerment, from discrimination and violence against women to HIV/AIDS, from Socio-economic justice to general cultural differences and practices within different contexts.
Breakthrough has a different, creative angle to discuss human right issues. It uses an integrated strategy combining film screenings with seminars, panel discussions and workshops to encourage a larger public discourse on the human rights themes explored in the films. The Tri Continental 2009 Films were screened at universities, cultural institutions and citizens groups as part of Breakthrough’s Traveling Screen initiative.
She said the films went out to packed audiences at each venue – around 9500 people attended in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Calcutta. Students congregated to watch the films at their Universities in large numbers as well.
After its inauguration in Argentina in September 2002, the festival traveled to South Africa for the first time in 2003 and is marking its second anniversary in that country this year. It has become the primary platform for human rights cinema for the three continents that form part of the global South. In India, the Tri Continental began in 2004.
Specifically, the outreach leg of the festival – the Traveling Screen – is a unique program which contextualizes the notions of rights in its specificities as opposed to an abstract discourse on rights. Films provide an experiential context for young minds to interpret and develop their own notions of rights, wrongs, and justice.
“This form of exposure and subsequent engagement with the audience is very important to democratize a plural society like ours especially where minorities, women, dalit and tribal are at the receiving end of the powerful.” – Alika points out.
The Bangalore Film Society and Konangal Film Society in Coimbatore, NGOs like Yuva in Dharavi, WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace in Srinagar), the North East Network and over 60 colleges across the country have urged Breakthrough to discuss year long outreach programs to get the films of each Tri Continental Film Festival to them. Most importantly, she said the commitment and numbers of partners on the ground has increased.
The latest multimedia campaign ‘Bell Bajao’ Bring Domestic Violence to a halt (2008) by “breakthrough” has been a significant move against all kinds of domestic abuse. “Bell Bajao “is an awareness and intervention campaign against domestic abuse.
It seeks to engage men as direct partners ready to ‘ring the bell’, and intervene in situations of abuse – a new venture within the Indian context. “Bell Bajao”, campaign launched on August 20, 2008. It was released in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Breakthrough had produced a music album for awareness,” Mann Ke Manjeree” in 2000, two multi media campaigns “What Kind of a Man are You?” in 2004, a program, encouraging dialogue on HIV/AIDS among married couples and “Is this Justice?” in 2007, to brought the public attention, the growing incidence of stigma and discrimination faced by Women Living with HIV/AIDS (WLHA)
Some of the films screened in 2009 films were:
The Infinite Border, Brides of Allah, There Was a Queen, Still Human Still Here: Destitution of the Refused Asylum Seekers
, Behind Forgotten Eyes,
Is it Just a Game? Flying Inside My Body, The American, Under Construction, War Made Easy, Undercover in Tibet, Morality TV and The Loving Jihad – A Thrilling Tale.