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Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Thursday, February 26, 2004
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
Pacific Film Archives

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, the largest U.S.-based international human rights monitoring and advocacy organization continues their outreach with the fourth Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (HRWIFF) in the Bay Area. Taking place at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley from February 26-28 and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on 4 consecutive Fridays in March (5, 12, 19 and 26) this year offers twelve provocative films which help put a human face on threats to individual freedom and dignity, and celebrate the power of the human spirit and intellect to prevail.

Human Rights Watch\'s International Film Festival has become a leading venue for distinguished fiction, documentary and animated films and videos with a distinctive human rights theme. Through the eyes of committed and courageous filmmakers, we showcase the heroic stories of activists and survivors from all over the world. We seek to empower everyone with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a very real difference.

The festival schedule is as follows:

Thursday, Feb 26 - 7:00pm
POWER TRIP Directed by Paul Devlin
Produced in US/Republic of Georgia, 2003/ Running Time: 83m

The privatization of electricity is a complex but common issue in many parts of the world. For societies coming out of the communist system of the former Soviet Union, the cultural clash with private Western companies illustrates a set of human rights values that are in conflict. In the past, rights such as the rights to housing, education, and labor were valued in the Republic of Georgia. Whereas in the West, things such as the right to freedom of association, freedom of speech and freedom of religion took priority. Therefore, when the economic values shift in a country like Georgia, it means that values are obliged to shift in both the social and the political system. It is this tension between systems that gives rise to individual struggles, both to succeed and to survive.

In POWER TRIP, AES, an American global power company, has purchased Telasi, the ailing electricity distribution company in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, from the current government. Under Soviet communism, the government paid for electricity or the cost was negligible. Local AES manager Piers Lewis must now train the entire population that in the new market economy, customers have to pay for their electricity. This means the people of Tbilisi must face the painful reality that a significant portion of their already meager income will have to go to paying their power bills. Most Georgian citizens, large companies and even the Energy Minister choose not to comply and devise ever more clever ways to obtain electricity for free. Led by Lewis, AES now decides it must teach its clients a harsh lesson by disconnecting nonpaying customers from their electricity. In an environment of confrontation, hot tempers, street rioting, pervasive corruption, and even assassination, POWER TRIP takes viewers on a roller coaster ride as AES struggles to help build a modern nation from the rubble of the Soviet collapse.

LIFE ON THE TRACKS Directed by Ditsi Carolino
Produced in UK/Philippines, 2002/ Running Time:70m

Filmmaker Ditsi Carolino achieves an amazing intimacy in her cinema verite portrait of a young Filipino couple, Eddie and Pen Renomeron, their three adopted children and two kids of their own. The family lives in a neighborhood teaming with makeshift houses crowded dangerously close to the railway tracks in the Philippine capital Manila. Between the rails, children play, handmade carts are transported, men gamble and women socialize. When a train approaches, everyone steps aside for a moment and, once the cars have rumbled past, life resumes its normal course. Eddie and Pen have serious worries, because the landlord has announced that their \"house\" is to be demolished. They owe a great deal in back rent. Eddie earns almost nothing selling duck eggs and the pittance that Pen receives as a maid does not help enough. They each cope with their anxieties in different ways: Eddie converts his hard-earned cash into booze whenever he gets a chance and when Pen finds her husband drunk, she flies into a rage. Filmmaker Carolino exhibits remarkable skill in capturing the seminal moments of emotion and humor in one family\'s life journey.
Added to the calendar on Sat, Feb 7, 2004 7:53PM
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