Human rights are always political. Their affirmation or defence goes far beyond a set of principles enshrined in a declaration or a constitution. Locally or globally, Voices tells the stories, cultures and struggles of marginalized individuals and communities. It focuses on the forgotten and questions the silences and the unspoken.

Voices is a bilingual, collaborative podcast series produced by Utopia3 and the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH).

Interviews and direction: Davide Rodogno, Paroma Raya Ghose, Jonathan Schmitt


Season 3

Subscribe to utopia3 on Spotify, Deezer, Apple Podcast ou Ausha

Followutopia3 on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn


Episode 21 - Aïssa Maïga

Around the film Above Water by Aïssa Maïga

The basic need to quench thirst is an everyday struggle in the village of Tatiste in northern Niger, where severe drought has pushed sources of drinking water further and further away. Yet, deep under the scorched land on which they live is a huge underground lake and reservoir of drinking water. Without the resources to create a borehole to access it, the inhabitants of Tatiste are forced to leave behind their children in search of work in other towns, sometimes in other countries, in order to provide the basic necessities for their children. This intimate glimpse into the lives of the villagers in Tatiste through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Houlaye shows the severe and destructive consequences of climate change, and how profoundly it impacts the lives of those far from the sources of its onset.

You are listening to a podcast about the film Above water directed by Aissa Maiga in 2021.


Episode 20 - Ousmane Zoromé Samassekou

Around the film The last shelter by Ousmane Zoromé Samassekou

The Maison du Migrant in Gao, Mali provides a last refuge for migrants braving the perilous and uncertain path across the Sahara in search of a new life in Europe. The refuge stands at a crossroads, where these migrants coincide with those returning from an unsuccessful attempt to make the journey. Here they exchange stories and experiences, and encounter the ghosts of those who have gone missing in the endeavour. Ousmane Samassékou Zoromé’s film - The last shelter - captures the immense complexity of the fear and courage that leads to the decision of migrants to embark upon this journey and leave behind the life into which they were born.


Episode 19 - Rahul Jain

Around the film Invisible Demons by Rahul Jain

The harsh realities of climate change, and the way in which they manifest in an ever more unequal society, are unapologetically captured in this quietly unsettling and intimately filmed documentary by Rahul Jain. Invisible demons explores the consequences of a global phenomenon within the locus of the Indian capital New Delhi, engaging with a large spectrum of its residents and unravelling the complex politics that led to the current status quo. It is a local chapter in a global conundrum. 


Episode 18 - Saleh Hijazi

Around the film Blue Box by Michal Weitz and the Israel-Palestinian conflict

In this episode of Voices, our third installment in our series on Michal Weitz's Blue Box, we talk to Saleh Hijazi, Palestinian activist and Amnesty International Regional Director for North Africa and the Middle East. Hijazi was instrumental in the creation of Amnesty’s report characterizing Israel as an apartheid state under international law. We talk to Hijazi about his impressions of The Blue Box, what it means to name apartheid in Israel, and the possibility of a future where Palestinians no longer face oppression at the hands of an occupying state.


Episode 17 - Avraham Burg & Denis Charbit

Around the Israel-Palestinian conflict

In this episode of Voices, the second installment of our series on Michal Weitz's Blue Box, we talk to Avraham Burg and Denis Charbit about the history and current state of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Avraham Burg is a former speaker of the Israeli Knesset, as well as an author and activist who has advocated strenuously for Palestinian rights in Israel and has proposed that Israel seek to become the multi-ethnic “state of the Jews” rather than exclusively Jewish state. Denis Charbit is the author of several works on Jewish-Muslim relations, as well as the impact of historical trauma on both peoples, and the limits the lingering effects trauma impose on peaceful resolution of the present conflict.


Episode 16 - Michal Weitz

Around the film Blue Box by Michal Weitz

In this episode of Voices, we talk to Michal Weitz, whose documentary Blue Box tells a story about memory and history, and the often-conflicted relationship between the two. Director Michal Weitz is the granddaughter of Joseph Weitz., known to history as both the Father of Forests in Israel, and the Architect of Transfer among Palestinians. Spearhead of the Jewish National Fund, an organization responsible for the acquisition of hundreds of thousands of acres of territory within the boundaries of the former Palestinian mandate and current state of Israel, Joseph Weitz's complex moral legacy mirrors that of the state he helped found. His granddaughter’s remarkable film explores this legacy, its ongoing relevance to Israeli-Palestinian relations, as well as her and her family’s sometimes difficult effort to live in shadow of their grandfather as both a myth, and a man.


Season 2

utopia3 is a podcast conversation with those who think, make and struggle for Human Rights every day, in their own way. Our interviews revolve around the personal and professional trajectories of the individuals we meet. We invite our guests to discuss meaningful moments in their lives when they defended, protested or were deprived of fundamental rights.

We ask them about rights they found, those they lost, those they cannot do without and we try and understand how and why fundamental rights intertwine in the private and professional lives of our interviewees. The interviews are conducted by Davide Rodogno, Professor of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and by David Brun-Lambert, cultural journalist. Directed by Martial Mingam with the help of Julie Noyelle (coordinator) and Julien Babel (artwork). 


Episode 15 - Alain Damasio

"Thwarting the control regime"

He is one of the most exciting French writers of his generation. But also one of the most essential thinkers-adversaries of the control society in the European intellectual landscape. A cult SF author, but also an indefatigable activist and subtle logician of escape, Damasio scrutinises the inequalities generated by our digital societies and denounces their ravages. His third novel, Les Furtifs (La Volte, 2019), is an immense text that must be read urgently. 

Davide Rodogno and David Brun-Lambert talk to Alain Damasio at the Bibliothèque de Genève (BGE) after an exceptional visit to its archives where the manuscript of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract is kept.

Acknowledgements: Marc Atallah, Director of La Maison d'Ailleurs, Numerik Games Festival, Yverdon-les-Bains; Frédéric Sardet, Director of the BGE; Jorge Perez, Head of Unit, Public Services, BGE; Paule Hochuli, Curator of Manuscripts and Private Archives, BGE


Episode 14 - Daniel Lombroso

"The alt-right’s real power is in its narrative"

January 2021: The capture of Capitol Hill by Donald Trump's supporters revealed to the world the astounding mobilization capacity of the so-called "alt-right" in the United States. The "alt-right"? A hyper-conservative, racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic right-wing that has been experiencing an astounding revival across the Atlantic over the last decade. A journalist spent four years at the heart of this movement: Daniel Lombroso. He made a shocking documentary: White Noise

Deciphering the mechanisms and strategies of the alt-right and its merchants of hate: Davide Rodogno and David Brun-Lambert talk with Daniel Lombroso. An interview conducted by videoconference with a brilliant and brave journalist, author of a film of icy precision.


Episode 13 - Ruth Dreifuss

"Acting to bear the pain of the world"

She was raised in the school of trade unionism and became in 1998 the first woman President of the Confederation. A tireless fighter, she was the second female Federal Councillor to leave her mark on Swiss political history, notably by initiating the existence of maternity leave. At the age of 80, now retired from the NGO Global Commission on Drug Policy which she co-founded, her thirst for justice remains unchanged!

Women's rights, new dynamics of feminist activism and the convergence of struggles to demand more social justice: Davide Rodogno and David Brun-Lambert talk to Ruth Dreifuss. An exceptional interview conducted at the home of "Madame la Président" in Geneva. 


Episode 12 - Ernest Pignon-Ernest

"Capturing a reality in all its complexity"

This pioneer of street art in France has been pasting his drawings on the walls of the world's cities for 50 years. It is Rimbaud in Charleville Mézières, the martyrs of the Commune in Paris or Pasolini in the dead ends of Naples. But beware: while street-art artists approach urban space as a museum, the humanist artist dialogues with the history of the streets, questions their memory and reminds us of the violence inflicted on men. Exclusive interview.

Davide Rodogno and David Brun-Lambert talk to Ernest Pignon-Ernest, a huge artist, a passionate reader, and a mad lover of classical art and poetry. They draw in order to reinscribe human history in the places to which it belongs, and thus fight against the amnesia that strikes our society.


Episode 11 - Barbara Hendricks

"Music reminds us that we are the same"

A world-famous African-American soprano and human rights activist "out of necessity", the cantatrice has a special place in the collective memory. She may have been one of the great figures of opera in the 1980s and 1990s, but she still accepted the position of Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which she now holds "for life". Exclusive interview.

Systemic racism in the United States, commitment against inequalities, music as a tool of resistance to injustice: Davide Rodogno and David Brun-Lambert talk by phone with Barbara Hendricks, a major voice, a figure in the fight for refugees and patron of the FIFDH.


Season 1

Episode 10 - Jonathan Nez

Interview in English

"The U.S. government has failed us". utopia3 interviewed Jonathan Nez, President of the Navajo Nation, one of the Native American communities most affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

At a time when the Navajo nation was experiencing a record infection rate, it fought back fiercely, managing to contain the pandemic with radical but effective measures. Collective strength, resilience, discipline and common sense: in an interview we deliberately edited as little as possible, recorded on the Internet, President Jonathan Nez tells us how his people managed to keep a deadly virus at bay.  


Episode 9 - Max Richter

Interview in English

On the occasion of the release of his album Voices, a sumptuous ninth record matured over ten years, utopia3 spoke by telephone with the Anglo-German neoclassical composer Max Richter. An interview in which music is seen as a tool capable of questioning and perhaps reducing inequalities.

Max Richter looks back at the genesis of Voices and his initial intuition: the world is not moving in the right direction and certain positions that could not have been expressed until recently have become standardised in certain spheres. He witnessed the slowing down of the progressive turn the world seemed to have engaged with and the resurgence of xenophobia and extremism.


Episode 8 - Andy Cohen

Interview in English

Andrew "Andy" Cohen is a freelance filmmaker and journalist whose work aims to contribute to "social change and the protection of human rights". He has produced, directed or written several award-winning documentaries including Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012), The World Before Her (2012), Human Flow (2017), Ximei (2019) and Beijing Spring (2020).

In this interview, Andy Cohen talks about what led him to make Beijing Spring. Through a 16mm archive film hidden from the Chinese authorities for more than three decades, he reveals the censored history of the "Stars", a group of Chinese underground artists whose members, after the death of Mao Zedong, sought at all costs to express themselves freely and to protest - not without serious consequences later on.


Episode 7 - Lauren Anders Brown and Ayanda Dlamini

Interview in English

Lauren Anders Brown is the director of the documentary WOMENstruate. Ayanda Dlamini is an activist from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) who fights to break down taboos related to menstruations. In this interview, our two guests discuss the stigmatization of women around the world and specifically in Africa during their menstrual cycle.

Lauren Anders Brown is a self-taught American documentary filmmaker who has been active for over ten years. Starting with television series (Ugly Betty, House of Cards, etc.) and award-winning feature films (Argo, We Need to Talk About Kevin, etc.), she has gradually moved into documentary filmmaking, investigating health-related topics in more than forty countries, often in collaboration with the United Nations. Her second feature-length documentary, WOMENstruate, was filmed in just six days - the equivalent of an average menstrual cycle. It features the testimony of Ayanda Dlamini, a 23-year-old student from the kingdom of Eswatini who campaigns for the reproductive rights of young people living with HIV.


Episode 6 - Ilse and Femke Van Velzen & Ruth Hopkins

Interview in English

IIlse and Femke van Velzen are internationally acclaimed, award-winning documentary Dutch filmmakers. Weapon of War, about systematic rape in war-torn Congo, was awarded the 2010 Golden Calf, the Dutch equivalent of the Oscar. For the documentary Prison for Profit (2019), they collaborated with British investigative journalist Ruth Hopkins.

Ruth Hopkins, an award winning investigative journalist, has produced several remarkable investigations about wrongful convictions, long-term pre-trial detention or police brutality in South Africa. With an LLM in International Law and Human Rights, Ruth Hopkins has also explored other areas of work. In addition to her journalistic work, she set up and taught a human rights course at a journalism college in the Netherlands. In 2013, she made a report on a South African prison run by the private security company G4S. In February 2020, she published the book Misery Merchants (Life and Death in a Private South African Prison), preceded by the release of Prison for Profit, a documentary adaptation of her investigation by the Van Velzen sisters.


Episode 5 - Alaa Salah

Interview in Arabic, with simultaneous translation towards French by Sara Bencherif.

Alaa Salah is an architecture student. An anti-government protester, she became a major figure in the Sudanese Revolution. In April 2019, a photo of her taken by Lana Haroun, and then widely shared on social media, introduced her to the world. Nicknamed the "Woman in White" or the "Lady Liberty", the young woman from Khartoum explains in this interview how and why she became one of the voices of the Revolution at the age of 22.


Episode 4 - Burhan Sönmez

Interview in English

Burhan Sönmez is a Kurdish author writing in Turkish. He used to work as a human rights lawyer in Istanbul before going into exile in Great Britain following serious injuries inflicted by the Turkish police. His books have received prestigious literary prizes. He now lives between Istanbul and Cambridge. In this episode, Burhan Sönmez speaks about his exile, the distinction between history and memory, freedom, our responsibility in the face of social amnesia, art and his unshakeable faith in the human being.

Burhan Sönmez's last book, Labyrinthe, has been published in French by the Editions Gallimard.


Episode 3 - Yves Daccord

Interview in French

Yves Daccord spoke with Utopia3 on the eve of the end of his term as director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a position he had held since 2010. A former journalist with the Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), he joined the humanitarian organization in 1992 and has led operations in Israel, Sudan, Yemen, Chechnya and Georgia. In this interview (in French), Yves Daccord takes a retrospective and then prospective look at humanitarian action.


Episode 2 - Perla Joe Maalouli

Interview in English

Perla Joe Maalouli is one of the voices and one of the faces of the 2019 Lebanese Revolution. Sitting down in the ring, at the centre of the protest, with the protesters, facing the police and the security forces, she read poems in front of the Public Electricity building. She drove 300 Lebanese women to intercede with the militaries and avoided a possible blood bath. Perla Joe Maalouli is 27 years old, she is a filmmaker, a musician, a poet, a bigmouth, a rebel-born person.


Episode 1 - Joe Sacco

Interview in English

The legendary cartoonist and reporter Joe Sacco has been criss-crossing the planet for 30 years through his prodigious immersive graphic investigations, interweaving past and present, with a focus on the stigmas of war and its tragic consequences. In this first episode of utopia3, Joe Sacco talks about being rooted and uprooted, the genesis of a good story, the aftermath of colonialism and the recent protests around the globe.

Joe Sacco's new book, Paying The Land, has just been published recently.