Highlights of Human Rights Arts & Film Festival

25 February, 2015 by Press Release

The 8th Human Rights Arts & Film Festival (HRAFF) is thrilled to announce a selection of highlights from its 2015 program.

Kicking off in Melbourne then touring nationally, these highlights will form part of an entertaining and innovative program that seeks to inform, engage, inspire and drive conversation on human rights issues through its creative program of film, arts and forums.


‘The quality of films this year is exceptional and we are looking forward to a very exciting festival. Not only do the films highlight the significant moral and ethical issues of our time but they all display filmmaking of the highest quality and integrity.’ – Malcolm Blaylock, Program Director

The Festival is delighted to present Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, a new documentary following world-renowned artist and activist Ai Weiwei during turbulent periods in his ongoing fight for human rights in China. After being detained in solidary detention for 81 days by Chinese authorities and placed under house arrest the film picks up where Ai Weiwei Never Sorry left off, as Weiwei attempts to deal with the intense interest of the foreign media and international art world as well as a massive lawsuit from the Chinese government. Sure to fascinate audiences, this is a festival highlight that offers an eye into the life of an artist striving to contribute to social change.

Winner of the Audience Award at both the Sundance and Berlin International Film Festivals Difret, a feature with Angelina Jolie as executive producer, explores the traditional practice of marriage abduction that still occurs in much of Ethopia. The film is based on the true story of Lawyer Meaza Ashenafi, and young victim 14-year old Hiruit as they seek justice and ultimately change the fate of women’s rights in Ethiopia. A powerful film that demonstrates how the human condition transcends when belief systems fall apart.

Also, just announced is the stimulating and shocking documentary Ivory Tower, which investigates the 2014 student debt crisis in America that trickled into over $1 trillion dollars. This fascinating, exploratory piece directly addresses concerns for the future of higher education, ultimately asking viewers to consider if the worldwide trend of skyrocketing tuition fees is truly worth the cost.

This year the Festival’s arts program will include contemporary art exhibitions by Christian Thompson and Rushdi Anwar.

Christian Thompson is an internationally acclaimed, London-based contemporary artist. His work is primarily focused on the performative exploration of plural identities working in mediums including photography, video, sculpture, performance and sound. In 2010 Thompson made history by becoming the first Aboriginal Australian to be admitted to the University of Oxford in its 900-year history.
This exhibition will be Thompson’s first since completing his doctoral studies and will exhibit works from his brand new photographic series – a world premiere for HRAFF – as well as his new video work ‘Refuge’, a collaboration with James Young (formerly of Nico) that explores the innate lyricism of his paternal language. Melbourne’s Fort Delta Gallery will be presenting Christian Thompson’s work from May 14 – 23.

No Vacancy Project Space, alongside the Atrium space in Federation Square will exhibit two incredible installation works by Rushdi Anwar that seek to explore ideas informed by Anwar’s personal experience. Originally hailing from Halabja-Kurdistan, a place where a life of anxiousness and turbulence is too well understood, Anwar’s works in this exhibition realise his impressions of the nature of war and its impact on family, feelings of displacement and ‘home’ as seen through the eyes of a refugee. Anwar’s work addresses the transitory nature of life and manifests an understanding of change through the manipulation and juxtaposition of images and materials. These works will be exhibited from May 5 – 23 at No Vacancy Project Space, and May 10 – 22 in the neighbouring Atrium.

The Festival kicks off in Melbourne on 7 May then tours nationally to Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, Alice Springs and Darwin.

The full program will be announced in early April.


MELBOURNE 7 May – 21 May
Film Venues: ACMI and Bella Union
Art Venues: Federation Square Atrium, No Vacancy Project Space, Delta Force Gallery,
Dax Gallery and Chapter House Lane

CANBERRA 22 May – 25 May
Venue: Palace Electric Cinema

SYDNEY 26 May – 30 May
Venue: Dendy Cinema Newtown

DARWIN 30 May – 1 June
Venue: Deckchair Cinema

BRISBANE 2 June – 4 June
Venue: Brisbane Powerhouse

PERTH 2 June – 4 June
Venue: Cinema Paradiso

ALICE SPRINGS 5 June – 7 June
Venue: Totem Theatre

For more information visit: www.hraff.org.au