By Houda Mzioudet
The first edition of the Human Rights Film Festival in post-Gaddafi Libya, held November 1-4 in the Radisson Hotel, organised to bring movies and documentaries from around the world to Libyan audience and to discuss issues related to human rights proved to be a success.
Highlights of the festival included movies and documentaries from Egypt, Syria, Liberia, UAE, Turkey, Italy and Libya and dealt with issues related to women, children and people with special needs.
The festival provided an appropriate environment to present and discuss these issues from a global perspective. It used easy ways to deliver information and feelings associated with human rights issues. It also displayed these issues in their context and used storytelling of suffering and pain suffered by any person when they see their rights being violated.
The festival included panel discussions by various human rights activists from Libyan civil society with the public. The festival aimed at connecting audience to Libyan reality and importance of human rights in society.
The festival saw the presence of some foreign diplomatic personnel including the UN and Canada.
The festival was organised in cooperation with the US Aid and Centre for Scottish Documentaries among other organisers.
Two morning sessions: on Thursday and Saturday were devoted for children to sensitise them about children rights such as education, dignity.
“We do not have a square as in Egypt”: viewpoint of reality through movies and documentaries about Arab revolutions
On day two, Egyptian documentary "Back to the Square" was showcased. The movie dealt with the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution, the stalling of the democratic transition with the military accused of having confiscated the revolution by young Egyptians, the virginity test scandals of Egyptian girls staging sit ins in Tahrir Square, the arrest of blogger Michael Nabeel and his imprisonment for degrading Egyptian Army.
Discussions about the movie revolved around the controversy of the ‘Other’ as a negative character in the movie, the presence of human rights abuses in Libya and why it is stalling the victory of the Libyan revolution, a Libyan minister in the discussion panel remarked.
Azza Maghhur, a Libyan human rights lawyer warned against sacrificing of revolutions taking the example of the French Revolution that was violent for a century after its start.
She, however, wished that Libyans understand each other.
“We need to love each other. I wish we can speak about the aesthetic side of the movie,” Maghur regretted.
“When we see something like that about Egypt, it does give a reflection on Libya. It is about the culture of human rights in Libya,” she added.
One man in the audience stressed the importance of “the infrastructure of Libyan youth mentality.”
One panelist admitted that the culture of human rights in Libya is below satisfactory level compared to other Arab Spring countries.
“The movie is bold. This is a good step. It is realistic and touches people. As a Libyan Amazigh, we wish we can do a similar thing with Amazigh movies,” said Madghis Bouzakkahr, a Libyan media company owner in Tripoli.
On the third day, the session revolved around women's role in peace and reconciliation with the showcasing of Liberian movie produced in 2008 “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”.
The movie was acclaimed by the audience as bearing resemblance with the Libyan experience of reconciliation in post-Gaddafi Libya.