The FIFDH seized Geneva

Sold-out theatres, an enthusiastic and young audience from all walks of life: the 2019 FIFDH has been a huge public success!

Over the course of 10 days, 300 speakers participated in 200 events around 47 films, including world and international premieres and preview screenings, in the presence of filmmakers and protagonists.

The 2019 FIFDH has been a space of action, ideas and transformation, devoted to new forms of artistic, political and collective resistance, with extraordinary activists and celebrities, who embody commitment in the face of an unprecedented decline in human rights around the world, including Switzerland.

"What marked this edition are not movements, but the women and men in the field who risk their lives every day; people too often invisible to whom we gave the floor in Geneva and who have shaken entire rooms. It’s a huge source of hope."

- Isabelle Gattiker, FIFDH Director

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Celebrating citizen engagement

"I do not act for myself, but for others." In honour of Magdalena Nandege Lokoro, a South Sudanese peace activist who spoke at the Festival alongside actor Forest Whitaker, the FIFDH gave the floor to those who resist on the ground.

The participation of women in public debates has been one of the guidelines of this edition. Brazilian feminist activist Ludmilla Teixeira denounced the decline of democracy and human rights in Brazil. Her call for the vigilance of the international community on the situation in her country and the mobilization of women against a misogynist, racist and homophobic populism resonated with the FIFDH. The festival devoted an evening to the issue of cyber-harassment of women journalists, the questioning of gender identities and highlighted women human rights defenders.

The Festival highlighted the action of young people from LUCHA, a citizen movement that promotes democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "In prison, I was freer than those who interrogated me", said Fred Bauma, one of his activists. The FIFDH focused on the future of Iraq with Mustafa Saadoon, Director of the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, and Maha Alsakban, President of the Human Rights Advisory Board of Iraq, allowing Iraqis to participate at the heart of discussions concerning the future of their country.

The Festival reviewed the 30th anniversary of the web in the presence of its inventor Tim Berners-Lee, endeavoured to spawn new projects for connecting digital technology and human rights during an organized hackathon.

The identity of Switzerland and its role in international affairs were questioned during a debate between Christine Beerli, Tim Guldimann and Dick Marty. The Festival also gave the floor to people without legal status in Geneva as part of Operation Papyrus, in partnership with the RTS.

  • Relive the FIFDH debates in video


Can cinema change the world?

"There is no better instrument than cinema to create empathy and offer the opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of others". The actor Forest Whitaker recalled the power of cinema on the Festival stage. Rithy Panh came to present his new film Graves Without a Name, produced by ARTE, which concludes a powerful trilogy dedicated to the Cambodian genocide. Brazil’s Petra Costa premiered her film, The Edge of Democracy, an international fresco dedicated to her country’s recent history.

For the first time this year, the FIFDH has been involved in the development of new projects. On the occasion of its professional Impact Day, the Festival brought together filmmakers, NGOs, foundations and philanthropists around documentary film projects that have an impact on society. At the end of the day, the project Mars by Dea Gjinovci and produced by Britta Rindelaub of Alva Film (Switzerland), received the Impact FIFDH prize of CHF 2’000.

Bruno Boudjelal, Laurent Gaudé, Ai Weiwei, Roberto Saviano: a place of artistic abundance

Photographer Bruno Boudjelal, artist-in-residence of the Festival, has created the project We will not die tired, which addresses the issue of migration flows through the narrative and personal testimony of residents of Meyrin. The artist Ai Weiwei came to speak at the end of the screening of the film XIMEI by Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross, for which he is executive producer. Roberto Saviano spoke via videoconference in the context of the French release of his new novel Baiser Féroce. The writer Laurent Gaudé came to present excerpts of his most recent play, Et les colosses tomberont, inspired by his experience as a member of the jury of the FIFDH 2017, as well as a photographic performance with the photographer Gaël Turine. The writer Yves Pagès presented a gratifying performance addressing graffiti from May 1968 to today. Musician Sahin Najafi, a member of the jury, performed in concert at the Alhambra as part of the Festival.

Aïssa Maïga at the Tattes Accommodation Center

The Festival is committed to social cohesion and access to culture, by organizing an ever-increasing number of free events in migrant centers, social institutions, hospitals, detention centers and opening its doors to the beneficiaries of the Hospice Général. French actress Aïssa Maïga met the public at the Tattes Residence Center (Vernier), following the screening of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, awarded the Grand Prize for Fiction and Human Rights.