The 2017 Human Rights Watch Film Festival


June 6, 2017.  The 2017 Human Rights Watch Film Festival Film Festival, co-presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center, will run from June 9-18. This will be the festival’s 28th edition.

John Biaggi, the festival’s creative director said, “In these trying times for human rights, this year’s festival lineup champions activism – from people demanding accountability and major reform in the US police and justice institutions, to Chinese workers battling an electronics giant’s unsafe working conditions, to Mayan women at the forefront of political accountability and change in Guatemala, to the remarkable work of digital activists in Brazil and Tibet. The festival highlights the outstanding work of activists at home and around the world, presenting a broad array of urgent human rights issues beyond those that command today’s headlines.”

From what I have seen from the descriptions and expected guests, this year’s festival has a fascinating line up. As of press time, I attended a preview of director Tonislav Hristov’s documentary “The Good Postman.” “The Good Postman” is a portrait of political ideology and nostalgia verses modern realities, all set against a dying Bulgarian town’s upcoming mayoral election. The film focuses specifically on the conflict between two of its candidates. One candidate, the eponymous postman, has the idea of re-populating the town by allowing Syrian refugees to settle in the town’s abandoned homes and prosper in the now virtually deserted town. He argues against the expected resistance and fear about immigrants. The other candidate longs for a return to communism, to a time when everyone had a job. Never for a moment does he seem to take into account that the mechanism for communism no longer exists and that his idea of “employment for all” came at a price. In addition, jobs for the few remaining, aging and aged residents does not seem like a viable resolution. His “solution” is more about nostalgia than pragmatism. Meanwhile, the current mayor, up for re-election, seems to not want to move the town forward at all, to the point where she thinks internet access is not necessary. Considering that the whole election turns on a population of 48 people, and their votes, it’s anyone’s game.

Director Hristov shows this collection of colorful, aging characters, with long lived, lined faces, against the background of their environment. As they talk about ideology and the town’s future they are shown doing it within the context of overgrown fields, abandoned homes and houses which have seen better days. The present is contrasted with old photographs of a well populated and prosperous town in days gone by. “The Good Postman” has a lot of humor while it addresses a very serious issue about small town survival in an age of globalism and young people migrating to the big cities.

For complete program and schedule information on The 2017 Human Rights Watch Film Festival visit


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on June 6, 2017, in 2017 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Documentary, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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