Hana Makhmalbaf's Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame opens Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Giving Voice (and Screen) to Human Rights

Keep reading to find out how to win tickets to the closing night film and reception.

In a city filled with film festivals, it's often easy to miss some of the smaller festivals in light of the juggernauts that are Hot Docs and the Toronto International Film Festival.

One such smaller festival that is definitely worth checking out is the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, which kicks off it's 5th annual incarnation next week. The festival showcases filmmakers who create films that focus on human rights issues around the world.

The festival, a co-presentation with Cinematheque Ontario, runs from February 29 to March 5 at Jackman Hall with an opening gala on February 28 at the Isabel Bader Theatre.

The opening film, Hana Makhmalbaf's Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, was one of my favorite films from TIFF last year, and I'm extremely glad that Toronto film enthusiasts will be getting another chance to see this remarkable film about the fall-out of war in rural Afghanistan.

Makhmalbaf's film is poignant not only because it highlights the very human aspect of war, but because it is focused almost entirely on the interaction of children. In fact, children are an important theme in this year's Human Rights Watch Film Festival, according to festival chair Helga Stephenson: "For the first time, children this year figure predominantly in several of the films, and this will highlight the impact of violence and war on young lives."

Aside from the multi-award winning Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, the festival will also feature films such as Oscar-nominated Taxi to the Dark Side, and a personal favorite, Chop Shop. Most of the films to be screened are not likely to be widely-released, so the festival is the optimal occasion for Toronto cineastes to see quality films with a social conscience.

Tickets are on sale from the Human Rights Film Festival website and can also be purchased at the TIFF Year-Round Box Office.

Contest: Here's your chance to win one of two two double passes to the closing night film (A Love During The War at Jackman Hall) and reception - 6pm at Bau-Xi Gallery, 340 Dundas Street West. This includes an opportunity to meet the festival's special guests for the evening including Sgt. Debbie Bodkin who worked as an investigator with the United Nations Commission of Inquiry for Darfur in Sudan.

For your chance to win, just be one of the first two people to place a comment below. In your comment, please identify one film playing at this year's Human Rights Watch Film Festival that hasn't been named above or in any comments that proceed yours. To be eligible to win, you must be a Toronto-area resident. Good luck!

Still from Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame courtesy TIFF Group.

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