Roehampton Universities Human Rights Film Festival

Our logo for the film festival.

Our logo for the film festival.

Over the years human right film festivals have become a huge success, they have proliferated not only within the UK but also globally. My understanding and familiarity of organising a film festival was limited. As I undertook research to learn the purpose of having a film festival, I found Grassilli’s (2012) abbreviation credible. To “recognise films as powerful tools for advocacy. Through a combination of film screenings, arts and music exhibitions and debates and discussions with filmmakers…” (pg 31). Having analysed this articulate expression, it is evident that our film festival featured the aforementioned.

Based on this it was imperative that we would need spectacular human right films that would engage a powerful message to the audience through cinema.  From the outset ‘Nostalgia for the Light’ had received a positive general consensus from the group. This was an incredibly moving film on the day of the festival and the feedback from the audience was phenomenal. I participated as main spokeswomen for this event, at the end a gentleman spoke to me and requested the name for the film, as he knew someone who had their wife taken from them in the Chile trauma. For him it was emotionally moving, when he mentioned this to me, I felt so pleased that we as a group had already produced a successful festival, as it profoundly illustrated human rights through cinema so admirably.

Grassilli (2012) mentions what is needed for a festival to be launched, mainly a projector for the screening and a community to come and engage. This was a chance for Re-generate to campaign exponentially and for us to amplify the potential of our own human rights film festival. I liaised with Andy Smith the director of the campaign, I explained to him that we had a film called ‘Re-generation’ similar to their company name and that the message of the film correlated to their campaign message. His enthusiasm and drive on the day of the festival has encouraged him to have another screening of the film, for the youths.

During the weeks our lecturer asked us, why we were doing this? What do human rights mean to us? These questions were mind provoking and allowed us to think about what message we wanted our audience to walk away with. We wanted them to have a better understanding of what human rights are, and thus I thought that Amnesty International would be the perfect organisation that could explain this. What’s more is that they could do a workshop about a specific topic that would enlighten the audience. We eventually got an amazing speaker (Virginia Donovan) who was willing to explain the background of human rights, who Amnesty Intentional are and to organise a workshop on violence against women. On the day we received positive feedback, the audience were enlightened and reminded of the significance of violence against women. Respectively all the hard work I had been put in to emailing several people for them to agree to attend, finally paid off.

Grassilli (2012) confirms the value of celebrities as “they attract the attention… and increase the chance that the festival and its issues will receive coverage.” Therefore we were grateful to our lecturer who organised Michael Channan to come in to speak about Secret City. It was a pleasure to have him part of our festival, whilst I was designing the poster for the event in Duchene and for our lunchtime session, it was a privilege to say that they were attending for publicity benefits.

Click below to look at the posters we created for the festival:

Film Festival – Amnesty International

Film festival – General Poster

Film festival – Poster DU004

Film festival – Student Competition Poster

Two weeks prior to the festival we had to finalise some important decisions in order to publicise the posters. Consequently we ended up changing the timetable so that we wouldn’t be splitting our audience up, so we used the film festival-planning page on Moodle to confirm last minute things, so that everyone would be posted. I made a show plan for the events that I would be participating in, so that organisation and time keeping skills would be on point.

Click below to look at the show plan’s:

Film festival – Show Plan H209

Film Festival – Show Plan Re-generate

Film Festival – Show Plan Du004

Click below to see how our timetable changed, two weeks prior to the festival:

First timetable

Film Festival – Timetable

On the whole if I had the chance to organise another film festival I would extensively plan earlier on, so that publicity can be used to seek a larger audience, therefore be pro-active rather than re-active.  On reflection I would also allow my voice so speak constructive criticism for the recommended films, so that we get the best possible output from the films that would be screening. Finally I would suggest consistent meetings in order to confirm any changes or to get a general consensus on a suggestion, rather than wait a week, as this may have given us the opportunity to focus and expand on other ideas.  On the positive side, I think on the day we organised a marvellous film festival, one that the audience walked away with a meaningful message about what human rights is and how it is violated not only in the U.K but also globally.


Dina Lordanova and Leshu Torchin., (eds.) (2012) Film Festival Yearbook 4: Film Festivals and Activism. Edinburgh: St Andrews Film Studies.

If interested, the Human Rights Watch has many film festivals during the first two quarters of 2013. Click below to see dates and ticket information. 

See some of our images below, from the festival:

Outside the youth organisation.

Outside the youth organisation.

Business students came along on the day of the festival. This benefited us our audience had cupcakes and popcorn to snack on during the movie.

Business students came along on the day of the festival. This benefited us our audience had cupcakes and popcorn to snack on during the movie.

Before the award ceremony for the student competition.

Before the award ceremony for the student competition.

Third Place

Short film competition; 3rd place: Cristina Turcu – Poverty at Your Doorstep


Short film competition; 1st place: Sam Taylor and louise Das di Benedetto – The Perfect Human Rights


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