DITSHWANELO’s 15th Annual Human Rights Film Festival will be held from 7-16 April 2015 and features a variety of captivating films and documentaries covering different human rights issues. This year’s instalment will be particularly enthralling, owing to the fact that for the first time, three directors of the films on display will be available for the post screening discussions.
Bert Haitsma (a member of the Netherlands Society of Cinematography), is currently based in Botswana. His film credentials stretch beyond 20 years of experience in the industry. He has been responsible for productions like Sweety, Nadine, Victor Nobel, The Throne, Het Vrije Schaep and various commercials throughout the world. A number of his works have been nominated for the BANFF World Television Award, Golden Statute for the Best Television Documentary and the NPS Short Film Award. At this year’s film festival, 1994: The Bloody Miracle, will be shown on 7 April, which Haitsma co-Directed with Meg Rickards. This documentary is a chilling account of those who attempted to thwart the process of forging a new democratic rainbow nation and attempt to bring about civil war in post-apartheid South Africa. Mr Haitsma will be present to lead the discussion on this film.
Lee Hirsch is an American documentary filmmaker from New York. He attended the Putney School in Vermont, Hampshire College and the New York Film Academy.Hirsch’s debut feature film, Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony was launched in 2002, and received much acclaim for its chronicling of the history of the struggle against apartheid South Africa. He later founded, directed and produced the Local Voices for Obama project, which was a series of advertisements predicated upon stories told by supporters of Obama’s candidacy, in small towns of swing states around the 2008 presidential elections. At the 2009 Reed Awards, Hirsh subsequently won the Best Presidential Ad and Best Independent Expenditure awards. Hirsch also contributed a chapter to Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture, edited by Paul Miller and released in 2008. At this year’s film festival, his 2011 production, Bully –which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival – will be screened on 10 and 11 April followed by a discussion led by Lee Hirsch.
Rehad Desai is the Chief Executive Officer of UHURU productions – a film and television production house situated in Johannesburg – and is also the founder of the Tri-Continental Human Rights Festival hosted in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. The festival is a cultural initiative that shows a selection of films from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia, with the aim to underscore issues of democratisation and human rights. Desai began his career in print media in the mid-1980s, while living in India and he entered the television and film industry in 1996 He has over the years managed to amass an impressive repository of filmography, with productions such as, The Bank, the Bodybuilders and the Businessman (1999), Death of a Bushman (2004), Born into Struggle (2004), and The Battle of Johannesburg (2010). This year’s Film Festival will showcase his 2012 production of Miners Shot Down on 16 April, followed by a discussion facilitated by Rehad Desai.
These are three very experienced film directors whose contributions to the post-screening reflections are expected to energise a highly absorbing environment that speaks to issues that are very relevant to today’s human rights global discourse.