It’s tough to think of people other than your love du jour over Valentine's Day. But if you prefer the Peace Corp to petunias, check out this week’s selections from the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Screenings began Wednesday evening and will continue through Saturday at the International House — just in time to miss the requisite three-course-meal and champagne.
Letter to Anna (2008) Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. Anna Politkovskaya is perhaps Russia’s most well-known journalist. An outspoken critic of the government, she was murdered in her apartment building in October 2006, the suspect still at large. This documentary serves as both investigation and tribute; interviews with opposition leaders and unseen footage of her daily activities are layered in a quiet testament to her influence. Perhaps most eerie is the resignation with which Politkovskaya predicted her death; Russia is still one of the most dangerous places for journalists. Though the second half becomes bogged down by repetitious scenes, the film still strikes the ideal tone: mournful yet celebratory.
A Promise to the Dead (2007) Friday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. On Sept. 11, 1973, a Chilean military coup overthrew the government of Salvador Allende, the democratically-elected socialist president. Government officials were called to stave off the attackers, which would have resulted in almost certain death. Cultural Adviser Ariel Dorfman survived to make this documentary. As the dictator Pinochet lay dying in fall 2006, Dorfman compiled interviews that detail the days up until the coup. The film lives up to its ambitious promise: honoring those who fell while investigating the reasons behind their deaths.
An assortment of shorts will be shown on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. Some of the most compelling include:
The True Cost of Coal (2007) dir. Brittany Hunsaker, Autumn Nikki King and Willa Johnson, U.S.
The Hidden Cost of Cashmere (2007) dir. Zane Scheuerlein, U.S.