Hundreds of spectators, 18 documentary films about human rights, 17 sustainable development goals, 74 volunteers, 11 jury members and 10 innovative workshops on socially significant problems. All of this relates to the 11th International Documentary Film Festival on Human Rights “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan”. On November 10, the organizers summed up the eleventh film festival, which was held under the slogan “Human Rights and Freedoms for Sustainable Development” this year.
For three days residents and guests of the capital had the opportunity to view 18 films under direction from the USA, France, India, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, Belgium, Great Britain, Russia, Norway, Poland, Australia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. The films were divided into thematic blocks under the UN sustainable development goals, such as gender equality, good health and well-being, sustainable cities and human settlements, the eradication of hunger, peace, responsible consumption and production, justice and effective institutions.
The festival organizers noted that the main goals of the film festival were the promotion of human rights and freedom through documentary films. In Central Asia, this is by far the only international platform where, through the genre of cinema, problems and solutions in the field of human rights have already been discussed for 11 years.
The festival itself relates to many difficulties. First, this is because documentary itself is always a struggle of interests and ideas. This is proved by several bans on screenings of individual films by law enforcement agencies in previous years. However, “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan – 2017” proved to be innovative. This year, in addition to watching the films, the organizers conducted 10 workshops on socially significant problems. During these workshops, civil society experts were able to develop new cooperation strategies with state officials.
The expert community at this festival was very talented and professional, including both local and international representatives from a variety of spheres. For example, the well-known juvenile justice judge Takhmina Sultanova from Kazakhstan shared with our judges and investigators what it means to be a judge for children, and these practices need to be implemented in Kyrgyzstan. At the workshop “Human Rights Defenders and Justice” we showed the film “Kylym shamy” about the town of Mailuu-Suu (where in the Soviet era they buried uranium – ed.) Kyrgyzstan was used as a raw material state and the remnants of the past were reflected in our children. Within the framework of this workshop we talked about intercountry negotiations and ways of solving problems for the city’s residents. The workshop “Migration and Security” helped us to develop a new strategy. Now we will call migrants investors, because trade unions should work for them,” noted festival director Tolekan Ismailova at the closing ceremony.
Everyone had the opportunity to see the films, take part in the discussion of paintings and participate in the workshops. Traditionally, entrance to the screenings of the festival’s films is free. Viewing documentary films allow viewers to better understand the socio-political and economic contexts of problems around human rights and freedoms, think critically about them and discuss solutions. Winner of the Grand Prix “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan – 2017” Zhanyl Zhusupzhan is convinced about this.
Zhusupzhan’s film “Letters from the Pamir” portrays Kyrgyz who live apart in the foothills of the Pamirs in Tajikistan. Their daily work is to get along peacefully with their Tajik neighbors. Colonial and political ambitions, wars, ethnic cleansing and economic inequality have always divided these lands into opposing territories. Watching this fragile world, the director first revealed to the audience the daily life of these inaccessible territories. The film tells the story of suffering and acceptance, respect and pride.
We really need such events. First, because the festival is about human rights, and second, it is about cinema. We had the legendary Kyrgyzfilm and still have Telefilm. We have a lot of film production, with over 140 films per year. Viewers watch domestic cinema even more than Hollywood, and it’s very good. I even have the feeling that it’s possible to say, “Let’s not make war, let’s make movies.” There is no need to be afraid, there are many opportunities today. The main point is the desire to learn, and you can shoot a film on your phone these days, ” noted the festival’s main prize winner.
The film “Life is Beautiful” by Azamat Sharshenov won a prize as voted by audience members. The film tells the story of a family, which endures everyday hardships much more difficult than those of neighboring families. Members of this family are blind or otherwise visually impaired. Despite these life difficulties, the film’s heroes are admired by others. They do not complain and do not expect help from anyone. They work, study and keep their house clean. On the other hand, the director raises the issue of insufficient attention to blind people on the part of government agencies. Members of the jury also appreciated the film.
My favorite film is of course Life is Beautiful. This is a new approach, an entirely new way of showing our problems. Not through tears, sadness and print, not through protests and rallies, but through ordinary rules and the organization of our life. Each of us must be organized not only from the point of our victories and achievements, but also in regard to problems and obstacles. It is impossible today for society to expect from the state or from life only praise and success. Today we need to reorient our people to the fact that we must learn to live and face the problems that surround us, and next to the people who are trying to break through small barrier in their lives,” noted “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan – 2017” jury member Elena Bayalinova.
According to viewers, this year the festival broke free, letting go of some of its previous shackles and obstacles. Perhaps this is since the subject of human rights has become closer to and more understandable for the Kyrgyz people. Every film is a real story, sharing insight about people all over the world, whose lives are so similar to our own.