The Human Rights Watch film festival begins this week with an absolutely stunning array of documentaries and dramas. Highlights include Mandela: The Myth and Me, South African filmmakers Khalo Matabane’s extremely personal reflection on Mandela’s legacy, and An Episode In The Life Of An Iron Picker, in which a Bosnian scrap metal forager faces social prejudice and bureaucracy whilst desperately searching for medical treatment for his sick wife.
The tragicomic Scheherazades Diary observes a group of female Lebanese convicts as they find solace in a prison theatre project, Big Men exposes the secret, deadly and corrupt world of scrupulous oil investors within West Africa, Siddarth follows the harrowing trials and tribulations of a father searching for his lost young son in contemporary India, and Return To Homs is an intimate portrait Syrian revolutionaries desperately fighting for justice. You can also catch The Unknown Known in which celebrated documentary filmmaker Erroll Morris interviews former U.S Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, and anything directed by Morris is always essential viewing in my opinion.
It’s love, war and robots in contemporary sci-fi The Machine, and gritty prison conflict in British drama Starred Up. Defying all genre expectations is art-house crime flick Salvo that finds an unstoppable mafia bodyguard suddenly taking care of his enemy’s blind sister. If you’re looking for something visually stunning, haunting, effecting and deeply weird than I suggest you check out Jonathan Glazer’s surreal sci-fi horror Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson, or one of the Ritzy’s late night screenings of Dario Argento’s unnerving tirade against the eyes and ears, seventies horror classic Suspiria.