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Human rights explored through art

21 May 20150 comments
A still from the short film 'Undocumented'

A still from the short film ‘Undocumented’

The International Shorts 1 at the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival (HRAFF) showcased an extraordinarily powerful and thought provoking collection of short films.

A peek into the intricate complications of human kind, the one and a half hour screening explores the incredible bravery of people in harrowing situations.

The International Shorts, which is often a favourite at HRAFF, showcases seven short films from around the globe that display a kaleidoscope of human experience.

This year showed films from Switzerland, Canada, India, France, Iran and the USA, all offering an insight into the complexities of the human condition.

Many delved into issues of multiculturalism, conflict and the profound difficulties involved in adjusting to change.

The first film ‘Discipline’ is a hilarious take on multiculturalism in Switzerland, with the huge array of cultural ‘norms’ being highlighted through a disagreement at a corner store.

At the end of this first short however, the tone dropped immediately as each consecutive film became dark and sorrowful.

Particularly breathtaking in cinematography and emotiveness was ‘Aban + Khorshid’, which follows two men awaiting the death penalty for the crime of loving each other.

The thirteen minute film shows beautifully intimate moments between the couple, contrast against their impending doom within cement jail cells.

The power of such a short film was remarkable; its’ profound impact was heard loud and clear through the various weeping audience members.

The true story was typical of HRAFF as it begged the question ‘how can such a clear violation of our rights still be happening around the world?’

The festival’s key goal is to explore human rights issues that often lie outside the scope of mainstream media.

‘Undocumented’ is one such film that shows this, while also having a slightly lighter tone than the others.  It provides a grey glimpse into the paperwork filled lives of compassionate caseworkers in detention centres.

Through dull colours and a neat story line the audience is exposed to the dismal and disheartening life of those fighting constantly losing battles.

The French film shows the human side of immigrants while exploring the unsympathetic ways in which they are dealt with.

Humanising human rights is the basis of HRAFF, which highlights how bizarre it is to have to do so.

The festival has taken on this task for the last eight years, each year exhibiting for a fortnight in Melbourne and then spending three weeks spreading art and film throughout the country.

HRAFF explores many mediums, displaying contemporary cinema, music and fine art created by renowned filmmakers and artists from Australia and internationally.

The annual festival is created by a Melbourne based not-for-profit organisation that also holds on-going school and community education programs that are dedicated to enlightening audiences about human rights through art.

This year’s festival ends its Melbourne run today and begins its tour around the country.

Ruby Brown
AMES Staff Writer