Mexico hosts its first human rights film festival

The weeklong event, which is to take place in two branches of the Cinepolis chain of cinemas in central Mexico City, is an attempt by a range of groups, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Mexico City’s own human rights commission, to advance the issue of human rights in Mexico.

Although the language of rights figures heavily in Mexican popular culture, political discourse and civil rights movements, there is still a lack of understanding about the details.

Liliana Valiña, the representative from the United Nations Commission for Human Rights here in Mexico, noted that most people haven’t read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She was speaking at an event Thursday to launch the festival.

“They don’t know their rights,” Valiña said.

Film viewings, which kick off on Monday, are to be free to encourage the attendance of people across the social spectrum, said organizers, who are expecting up to 8,000 visitors to watch films throughout the week.

"Bajo Juarez," a documentary about the murdered women of Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, will be featured in the festival, along with Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The 11th Hour". Accompanying events such as open-air film showings in Mexico City’s Zocalo and Parque Mexico in La Condesa are also planned.

Of the 29 films on the program, 20 are Mexican. The other nine come from France, Chile, Spain, the United States, Britain and New Zealand, and they explore themes as diverse as the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Guantanamo in Cuba and the victims of Liberia’s civil war.

This is the first of what is planned as an annual event, and organizers hope to expand the festival to other major cities in Mexico in the coming years.

Stay tuned for views and reviews of the films on show, and you can watch the trailer for the event here.

This post was written for La Plaza.

Photo: A promotional poster for the First International Festival of Human Rights Cinema, provided by the organizers.