The FIFDH is supported by a committee of patrons composed of seven international personalities committed to the defense and promotion of human rights.
Barbara Hendricks has performed on all the greatest opera stages and has sung under the direction of the most prestigious conductors of our time. After almost 20 years of tireless service to the cause of refugees in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, she received the title of Honorary Life Ambassador of the UNHCR. Barbara Hendricks has participated in the FIFDH on several occasions and has sponsored the festival for many years.
Mexican actor and director, Gael García Bernal has worked with renowned directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, Michel Gondry, Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu. As an activist, he is committed to democracy and human rights by defending the cause of migrants and indigenous peoples. He is also the founder of the festival Ambulante Gira de documentales. Gael García Bernal has participated twice in the FIFDH: in 2016, he spoke at an accomodation centre for migrant people in Geneva. In 2018, alongside Mexican activists, he denounced impunity in Mexico on the Festival stage.
Filmmaker, producer, philanthropist and passionate activist, Abigail Disney devotes her life to social justice, peace processes and women’s empowerment. In 2009, she created Fork Films, and produced the series Women, War and Peace, Citizen Koch, which attacked the Tea Party, The Invisible War, which denounced sexual abuse in the army, and Cameraperson, awarded the Oscar for the best documentary. She has publicly denounced the tax cuts she will benefit from in the United States, as well as the misogyny and racism of her great uncle, Walt Disney. In 2018, Abigail Disney is President of the FIFDH Documentary Jury.
Cambodian filmmaker, Rithy Panh is famous for his films Les gens de la rizière, La Terre des âmes errantes, S21, Le papier ne peut pas envelopper la braise and L’Image manquante. A survivor of the Khmer Rouge labour camps, he went into exile in 1979 in Thailand and arrived in France in 1980 where he graduated from IDHEC in 1985. His work is imbued with the memory and pain of genocide survivors. A regular guest at the FIFDH, Rithy Panh presents in particular Exile in 2017 and Les Tombeaux sans noms in 2019.
Ruth Dreifuss was the first woman elected President of the Swiss Confederation in 1999. From 1993 to 2002, she was Federal Councillor and head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs. Ruth Dreifuss is currently active in several non-governmental and international organizations, including the World Commission on Drug Policy and the International Commission against the Death Penalty. A loyal FIFDH guest, Ruth Dreifuss has participated in the festival on numerous occasions.
Vieira de Mello
Brazilian diplomat, Sérgio Vieira de Mello was appointed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2002. Sérgio Vieira de Mello was tragically killed by a suicide attack in August 2003 in Baghdad. Previously, in March 2003, he was the first patron of the FIFDH and stated: “I am delighted with this initiative to create the first Human Rights Film Festival in Geneva, just as I encourage every effort to promote respect for human rights in all circumstances and in all societies. May this Festival bring this message to Geneva, one of the cradles of human rights, and beyond.”