The Human Rights Film Network: festival resilience in the time of Covid-19

Grassilli, Mariagiulia and Colta, Alexandra (2021) The Human Rights Film Network: festival resilience in the time of Covid-19. NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies. ISSN 2213-0217

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The year 2020 was marked by Covid-19 health emergencies disrupting lives and societies on a global scale. No country or sector of our everyday life has been left unscathed by these unprecedented levels of sudden change and urgent adaptation that we all have experienced in different ways. Creative sectors also needed to quickly adapt and cope, while the importance of culture and the arts have once more emerged as key elements for resistance and nurturing in a time of crisis. Film festivals across the world and the film industry have also been impacted – some events were cancelled such as Cannes, Tribeca, Telluride, SXSW, Mumbai, and Edinburgh Film Festival; many opted for online versions such as Sheffield, Sarajevo, Thessaloniki, New York, HotDocs, and CPH:DOX. From September onwards a few have started to run again physically – Venice, London, Toronto, Pingyao, Jenjou, Busan – at times combining some blended elements of online streaming to reach out to global audiences missing the usual international festival calendar, especially film industry delegates.

This article focuses on how human rights festivals across the world have creatively and resourcefully resisted and adapted to Covid-19. It analyses the impact of this crisis on festival organisations within their contexts and on the global outreach that was possible thanks to the connections of the Human Rights Film Network (HRFN). The findings in this article are based on a survey that collected testimonies of how HRFN members responded to Covid-19 between April and November 2020 as well as from a global virtual meeting that was organised in July 2020 as an opportunity to ‘bring us closer together at this time of difficulty and uncertainty, allowing all members to meet, share ideas for online activities to work more closely and collaboratively in the future’.[1] As producers of human rights film festivals who are members of the network and who attended these live meetings, we experienced firsthand the conversations that emerged, the reactions from fellow festival producers, as well as the importance of having such spaces to share concerns and advice. These reports help us understand how human rights festivals across the world have experienced this crisis within their geographic contexts and to ask questions such as: What was the impact of such emergencies on festival organisations in different contexts? What role did creativity, resistance, community solidarity and social networks play in the different local contexts? And finally, what was the role of the HRFN and its global outreach, in terms of connections, solidarity, and sharing of knowledge?

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Human Rights, Festivals, Covid-19, Cinema
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 08:44
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2021 13:57

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