Human Rights and Documentary Cinema

What role can documentary film play in promoting human rights? Oksana Sarkisova's course introduces ten recent thought-provoking, educational, professionally crafted, and visually engaging documentary films from different parts of the world addressing a variety of human rights issues. Thematic ranges of the documentary films include economic, social, and cultural rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, refugee rights, and international humanitarian law. The course explores the variety of means, from storytelling constructions to camera work and editing, with which concrete cases of human rights violation are presented in advocacy films and in the investigations of political and economic contexts which create conditions for human rights abuses. The students will discuss the elements of compelling visual storytelling, including character and storyline development, variety of styles of documentary filmmaking, distribution channels in relation to social change and impact enhancement, as well as the role of the new media in creating human rights documentaries.