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Human rights draw the crowds in Geneva

A still from this year's winning film.

The International Film Festival on Human Rights is going from strength to strength with 16,000 people viewing films in Geneva during this year's event.

A Canadian documentary called Ce qu’il reste de nous (What remains of us) on Saturday took the Vierra de Mello prize, named after the former United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights.

De Mello was killed in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, in 2003.

The winning film from François Prévost and Hugo Latulippe was commended for “the relevance of its content and the beauty of its form”, a statement from the festival organisers said on Saturday.

As a symbol of the struggle for human rights led by one individual, it delivers a universal pacifist message.

It was competing with ten other films for the distinction, which carries a prize of SFr10,000 ($7,754.3).

Special mentions

There were also two special mentions – one for Coca, la colombe de Tchétchénie (Coca, the dove from Chechnya) by Erik Bergkraut and partly produced by Swiss television, and for The Devil’s Miner by Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson.

Fourteen films also competed for the World Organization Against Torture Award, which this year was awarded to Liu Wei for Year by Year.

The award with prize money of SFr5,000 goes to a filmmaker who highlights a particular situation showing the need to fight for human rights.

Special mention was made of the film Flowers don’t grow here by Shira Pi.

The Youth Jury Award (SFr2,000) was won by Show-Chun Lee for the film Ma vie est mon video-clip préféré (My life is my favourite video clip).


This year the festival paid homage to international Geneva, the capital of human rights and humanitarian action.

It opened with the first film ever made about Henry Dunant, founder of the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross.

Actress and activist Vanessa Redgrave, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey attended the screening.

In the festival programme, Calmy-Rey underlined the importance of this tribute to Dunant: “Henry Dunant has a message for us today – that of not being afraid when we are called upon to make human dignity a more tangible reality.”

The festival is seen as strengthening its role as a standard bearer for the victims of human rights abuses and the non-governmental organisations that defend them.

swissinfo with agencies

The fourth International Film Festival on Human Rights took place in Geneva from March 10-18.

The festival acts as a forum for non-governmental organisations during the annual session of the UN Human Rights Commission.

It is supported by Louise Arbour, Barbara Hendricks, William Hurt, Ruth Dreifuss, Robert Badinter, Hubert Nyssen, Jorge Semprun and Ken Loach.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR