Syria in focus at Norway's human rights festival

Ahram Online , Tuesday 9 Feb 2016

Several documentaries tackling the Syria crisis will screen during the Documentary Film Festival in Oslo

A Syrian Love Story
(Photo: still from A Syrian Love Story)

Human Rights Human Wrongs Documentary Film Festival in Oslo, Norway, will take place between 16 and 21 February and will screen documentaries from the countries with the most striking human rights' crises. 

The festival also includes seminars and debates with international guests around the many issues shattering the regions' communities.

This year, the festival will screen documentaries and discuss topics related to Mexico, Syria, Colombia, Senegal, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Tibet, Congo, Romania, Ukraine, refugees, extremism, land grabbing, the war on drugs, citizen journalism, and activism.

The organisers also revealed that they will look into Norwegian foreign policy and documentary film making.

The festival will include a screening of A Syrian Love Story, a documentary about a Syrian family by British filmmaker Sean McAllister.

The film was released in September 2015. It won the Special Jury Award at the Biografilm Festival, which took place in in Bologna, Italy, and the Grand Jury Award at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival. 

It has been nominated for several other prestigious awards, including Best Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards. The BAFTAs will take place on 14 February.

Director Sean McAllister will be present at the Oslo festival.

Syria Shorts: Portraits From Dystopia "will introduce the daily struggle to survive and to resist by ordinary Syrian civilians. Through a mix of documentary and poetic expressions, these films have been produced by people who dare to continue to hope, to love, and to stay alive," the organisers explain at the festival's website.

The selection of shorts includes: Love during the Siege, Sage, A Day and a Button, and 1915.

A debate titled 'Why is Russia bombing Syrians?' will include a panel with Sverre Lodgaard, a Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), Ibrahim Olabi, a founder of the Syrian Legal Development Programme (SLDP), John Peder Egenæs, Gen. Sec. Amnesty Norway and moderator Tine Gade, a Senior Lecturer of Middle East Studies, University of Oslo.

According to the festival's website, the debate will look into Russia's presence in Syria. "Russia has been accused of committing war crimes by targeting civilians and using cluster bombs. Russia’s engagement is allegedly to fight ISIS. However, numerous reports suggest otherwise. 

"Who is Russia targeting? How is the Russian intervention shaping the humanitarian and political scene? What are the implications of Russia’s engagement on stability in Syria and the region?"

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