The seminar entitled "Cinema and Human Rights" touched upon the role of cinema in showcasing Human Rights. This was part of the seminars held on the side of the ninth version of The Aljazeera International Documentary Film Festival.
Meanwhile, two proposals were discussed: One for Simon Scores - a documentary film director at the Red Cross while the second one was for Sophie Scott - a documentary film director at the French organization "Doctors without Borders". This is in addition to Mustafa Al-Buazawi, a renowned director in this domain. The seminar was administered by Rawan Al-Damen; a director and producer at Aljazeera Channel, and the director of "Under the Microscope" program.
At the beginning, Al-Damen introduced this genre of films and its importance, and she said, "The violation of human rights resembles the violation of our individual rights.
The plight is embodied through documentary films when we watch them. We come to understand the violation of human rights when we see the pictures that reflect the plight, and the issue then turns from a public issue to a private one. It also leaves a long term impact that doesn't lose its glamour with the fast beat of the breaking news.
Thus, the film doesn't only leave a long term impact but also documents for us those violations and the method by which groups of people suffered in different parts of the world".
Then, Simon Scores talked about the nature of documentary films discussing human rights issues. He asserted that these films have qualities that perhaps aren't available in other types of media forms where live testimonials of people are being documented.
He also added the organization he works for plays a dual role in serving human rights. That is, this dualism is represented in recording what people are experiencing through the films the organization produces; this is in addition to the help they offer to those people. The priority goes to the help in case of conflict between the two roles.
The cameras then are put aside, and once the confidence is gained from the people are being helped, the filming of their suffering is resumed. He added in order to do a good job; their faces and identity should not be revealed to avoid annoyance and problems in obtaining entry visas to those cities.
Score explained that the organization opts for this type of films to influence the individuals' behavior by showcasing the reality of what is happening, and the consequences await some of the human rights violators. To further clarify that, Scores screened a film produced by the Red Cross to show their approach of film production.
In a speech for Sophie Scott; the director of documentary films at the French organization "Doctors without Borders", she defined the organization as "a medical organization that offers help in different trouble areas of the world. The organization was found in 1971 and it aims to be a platform for those who are unable to voice their opinions through media organizations".
Scot explained that the organization adheres to ultimate impartiality and to accomplish this, it doesn't accept donations from governments or influential organizations. Rather, donations from ordinary people are accepted.
She pointed to the difficulties that the organization's filming crew face during the course of work. They encounter dangers and sometimes difficulties in obtaining visas to some countries.
She asserted that the primary mission of the organization has always been to offer relief to the disadvantaged people from trouble or diseases around the world before thinking about documenting this work, and documentary films production comes next.
She added, "Some events like the spread of epidemics and contagious diseases may ward off journalists from those areas as they found nothing is worthy of reporting. Here comes their role in showcasing these events to the public because health is a fundamental human right". Then Scores screened a film that explains the way the organization makes documentary films that aims at human rights.
On the part of Mustafa Al-Buazawi, an independent documentary filmmaker of this genre, he talked about the beginning of his career as a journalist in the heart of the field in Palestine where he recorded all human rights violations the Palestinian people had encountered. This is in addition to his work in Somalia and his frequent travel between countries until he arrived in Colombia.
Then Al-Buazawi screened one of his films about a small Bulgarian village that experience recurrent human rights violations. Muslims in that village are a minority and they are being oppressed by the rest of the residents who belong to the Bumack religious minority and speak Bulgarian.
Islam was brought to the village by the Ottomans. The film depicts the migration of some of this group to Greece and Turkey fleeing the consecutive oppression waves which had declined since the collapse of Communism in 1989. Al-Buazawi said, "I have never heard of this oppressed group and so do many others, but I got to know them well through this film that exhibited the plight of that group".