One World Berlin starts tomorrow

Now in its fifth edition, the One World Berlin Film Festival for human rights will screen its biggest selection to date from November 20 to 26, 2008. Melanie Sevcenko talks with festival director Natalie Gravenor about the fest's mission and why Berlin is the perfect home for it.
November 19, 2008

During seven programmed-packed days, One World will screen 50 international documentary films, out of competition, that thematically discuss socio-political issues, civil society and ecological themes, as well as investigative and activist films that draw attention to the most serious problems and violations of human rights.

The key to a deeper understanding of the world is to push for a global interconnectedness. So before we idealize documentaries as tools of mobilization, lets first consider documentary as a means of digesting the bigger issues. In Berlin it’s not difficult to persuade an intellectual, student, activist, artist or a barfly to hunker down into a cozy kino and learn something new about the world we live in, and by doing so, passively promote democracy, right? As festival director Natalie Gravenor says, Berlin represents both ‘history and the present in its multicultural makeup. The city is a haven for all sorts of alternative lifestyles.’ Thus, targeting the armchair activists is a progressive approach to ‘build awareness, encourage debate, and network like-minded individuals to reach a critical mass for taking steps, however small, to implement change.’

In 2003, after piloting the One World festival at Berlin’s Arsensal cinema, EYZ Media, of which Gravenor is a partner, was suggested to take over the festival’s coordination, due to its specialization in socio-cultural content. The following year, EYZ headed to Prague to visit the ‘mother’ festival, One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, to review the program, gather pointers and launch their own official branch in Germany’s capital.

In a curatorial sense, One World Berlin looks for artistically ambitious topical documentaries, adds Gravenor, ‘we have a personal weakness for content that extends the boundaries of ‘non-fiction’ film, like politically-engaged media art.’ This month’s One World Berlin focuses on architecture, urban and regional planning, GLBT (gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender) and Latin American issues, the medial representation of so-called minority groups, and the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Titles include, Chicago 10, A Jihad for Love, EAST/WEST – Sex & Politics, For the Bible Tells Us So, Citizen Sam and Neuland. Question and answer sessions will follow those screenings where the director is present, raising a platform for meaningful discussions that might hopefully ignite some action for the cause.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.