In October 2007, ten one-hour films focused on contemporary democracy were broadcast in the world's largest ever factual media event. More than 40 broadcasters on all continents are participating, with an estimated audience of 300 million viewers.
The films are made by independent award-winning filmmakers from around the world, including China, India, Japan, Liberia, USA, Bolivia, Denmark, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and Russia. With subjects ranging from US torture methods to the election of a class monitor in a Chinese primary school to the Danish Cartoons scandal, the films take a wide-ranging and in-depth look at the world we live in today. For more information, visit www.whydemocracy.net
ONE WORLD - International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival
The 10th One World Festival will take place March 5 - 13, 2008 in Prague; festival highlights will be presented in 28 cities across the country. The festival centre will be at Lucerna Cinema. The other festival cinemas include Světozor (two theatres), Evald, Ponrepo, Perštýn, and the City Library (Městská knihovna). Around 135 documentaries from nearly forty countries all over the world will be shown at the festival in both the competition and the thematic categories. The 2008 edition is dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi, 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and to the people of Burma. In its nine years of existence, the One World festival, which is organised by the People in Need foundation, has evolved into the biggest human rights film festival in Europe and it has become one of the most important cultural events in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic. In 2007, it was selected for an Honourable Mention within the framework of theUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Prize for Human Rights Education.
10 feature documentary films broadcast on Czech TV
PLEASE VOTE FOR ME [February 12]
Director: Weijun Chen
Producer: Don Edkins
Editor: Jean Tsien
Wuhan is a city in central China about the size of London, and it is here that director Weijun Chen has conducted an experiment in democracy. A grade 3 class at Evergreen Primary School has their first encounter with democracy by holding an election to select a Class Monitor. Eight-year olds compete against each other for the coveted position, abetted and egged on by teachers and doting parents. Elections in China take place only within the Communist Party, but recently millions of Chinese voted in their version of Pop Idol. The purpose of Weijun Chen’s experiment is to determine how, if democracy came to China, it would be received. Is democracy a universal value that fits human nature? Do elections inevitably lead to manipulation? Please Vote for Me is a portrait of a society and a town through a school, its children and its families.
LOOKING FOR THE REVOLUTION [February 19]
Director: Rodrigo Vazquez
Producer: Rodrigo Vazquez
Che Guevara died in Southern Bolivia while trying to ignite the sparks of revolution throughout South America. His death at the hands of Bolivian Rangers trained and financed by the US Government, marked the beginning of the cocaine era in Bolivia. Forty years later and under pressure from the masses who gave him a clear mandate, the first indigenous President Evo Morales (an ex-coca leaf farmer) is promising to continue the revolution. He has nationalised the oil industry and passed laws on Agrarian reform. Despite the revolutionary-sounding election speeches and campaign iconography that accompanied his landslide victory, on closer inspection it emerges that the old system is pretty much alive inside the new one. Corruption, nepotism and old-fashioned populism are at the core of this movement. The more Morales does to create employment, the more the landowners conspire against him and paralyse Bolivia’s economy. As a result, no jobs are created and the pressure from the poor increases. The cycle of tension threatens to crush both the country and the indigenous revolution.
CAMPAIGN! THE KAWASAKI CANDIDATE [February 26]
Director: Kazuhiro Soda
Producer: Kazuhiro Soda
Editor: Kazuhiro Soda
Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win an election? Perhaps – if he is backed by the political giant, Prime Minister Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). In the fall of 2005, 40-year-old, self-employed Kazuhiko “Yama-san” Yamauchi’s peaceful, humdrum life was turned upside-down when Koizumi’s LDP party chose him at the last moment as its official candidate to run for a vacant seat on the Kawasaki City Council. With zero experience in politics, no charisma, no supporters, and no constituency, Yama-San has one week to prepare for an election critical to the future of the LDP. Adhering to the campaign tactic of “bowing to everybody, even to telephone poles,” Yama-san visits local festivals, senior gatherings, commuter train stations, and even bus stops to offer his hand to everyone he sees. Can he win this heated race? Campaign! The Kawasaki Candidate offers up a microcosm of Japanese democracy.
DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT [March 4]
Director: Sabiha Sumar / Sachithanandam Sathananthan
Producer: Sachithenandam Sathananthan
Editor: Albert Elings / Eugenie Jansen / Calle Overberg
What are the implications for democracy in Pakistan when secular political parties have succumbed to the Islamic agenda? What does it mean when the army appears to be the only force able to contain the opponents of democracy, the armed Islamists? President Musharraf agrees to explore this apparent contradiction over dinner at his official residence, the Army House. As the discussion moves in and out of the different worlds in Pakistan a complex tapestry emerges revealing a society unique yet universal. The filmmaker talks to diverse individuals, from labourers to intellectuals, from street vendors to religious right wing political party members, and from journalists to industrialists. What is their idea of democracy in Pakistan? What is their idea of President Musharraf’s vision of a modern Pakistan? Dinner With the President questions the role a military leader can play in guiding a state towards modern democracy.
BLOODY CARTOONS [March 11]
Director: Karsten Kjaer
Producer: Alan Hayling
Editor: Anders Refn
Bloody Cartoons is a documentary about how and why 12 drawings in a Danish provincial paper could whirl a small country into a confrontation with Muslims all over the world. He asks whether respect for Islam combined with the heated response to the cartoons is now leading us towards self-censorship. How tolerant should we be, he wonders, of the intolerant. And what limits should there be, if any, to freedom of speech in a democracy. The director films in Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Qatar, France, Turkey and Denmark, talking to some of the people that played key roles during the cartoon crisis.
FOR GOD, TSAR AND THE FATHERLAND [March 18]
Director: Nino Kirtadze
Producer: Paul Rozenburg
Editor: Rodolphe Molla
Mikhail Morozov is a Russian patriot, good Christian and successful businessman. He owns Durakovo - the “Village of Fools” - 100 km southwest of Moscow. People come here from all over Russia to learn how to live and become 'true' Russians. When they join the Village of Fools, the new residents abandon all their former rights and agree to obey Mikhail Morozov’s strict rules. “What we have here is a society that respects the vertical of power, this is what our country needs most of all, “ says Morozov quoting his idol President Putin. The whole spectrum of power - political, spiritual and administrative – is represented in the village and people gather for semi-private meetings with Morozov. They discuss the future of Russia, their ambitions and their goals. For God, Tsar and the Fatherland shows what drives Russian patriotism today and why these citizens are against democracy.
TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE [March 25]
Country: USA / Afghanistan / Iraq
Director: Alex Gibney
Producer: Alex Gibney
Editor: Sloane Klevin
Over one hundred prisoners have died in suspicious circumstances in U.S. custody during the "war on terror". Taxi to the Dark Side takes an in-depth look at one case: an Afghan taxi driver called Dilawar who was considered an honest and kind man by the people of his rustic village. So when he was detained by the U.S military one afternoon, after picking up three passengers, denizens wondered why this man was randomly chosen to be held in prison, and, especially, without trial? Five days after his arrest Dilawar died in his Bagram prison cell. His death came within a week of another death of a detainee at Bagram. The conclusion, with autopsy evidence, was that the former taxi driver and the detainee who passed away before him, had died due to sustained injuries inflicted at the prison by U.S. soldiers. The documentary, by award-winning producer Alex Gibney, carefully develops the last weeks of Dilawar’s life and shows how decisions taken at the pinnacle of power in the Bush Administration led directly to Dilawar’s brutal death.
EGYPT: WE ARE WATCHING YOU [April 1]
Director: Leila Menjou / Sherief Elkatsha
Producer: Alan Hayling
Editor: Pierre Haberer / Angie Wegdan
In his 2005 State of the Union address President Bush cited Egypt as the country that would pave the way for democracy in the Middle East. Three women, unable to sit by while their country is on the brink of drastic change, start a grassroots movement to educate and empower the public by raising awareness on the meaning of democracy. They name their campaign Shayfeen.com - “we are watching you.” This film follows the highs and lows of the first year of their movement in Egypt. Insisting that only the people can make change happen, their goal is to educate the Egyptian public on what it takes to build the most basic pillars of democracy: basic human rights, freedom of speech and the establishment of an independent judiciary. Egypt: We are Watching You highlights the importance of ordinary citizens participating in shaping and securing their democracy.
IN SEARCH OF GANDHI [April 8]
Director: Lalit Vachani
Producer: Don Edkins
Editor: Menno Boerema
In the early decades of the twentieth century Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of non-violent revolution or Satyagraha inspired a mass movement of millions of Indians to rise up against the British colonial state and successfully agitate for the establishment of a democratic and free India. In 2007, the country is preparing to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of its existence as an independent nation. But what kind of a democracy does India have today? What does it actually mean to live in the world’s largest democracy? In road-movie style the film crew travels down the famous trail of Gandhi’s salt march, the remarkable mass campaign that galvanized ordinary Indians to join the non-violent struggle for democracy and freedom almost a century ago. Stopping at the same villages and cities, where Gandhi and his followers had raised their call for independence, the film documents the stories of ordinary citizens in India today.
IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA [April 15]
Director: Siatta Scott Johnson / Daniel Junge
Producer: Henry Ansbacher / Jonathan Stack
Editor: Davis G. Coombe
After fourteen years of civil war, Liberia is a nation ready for change. On January 16, 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was inaugurated President, following a hotly contested election which she won with the overwhelming support of women across Liberia. She is the first elected female head of state in Africa. Since taking office she has appointed other extraordinary women to leadership positions in all areas of government, including the Police Chief and the ministers of Justice, Commerce and Finance. Can the first female Liberian president, backed by other powerful women, bring sustainable democracy and peace to such a devastated country? Iron Ladies of Liberia gives behind-the-scenes access to President Sirleaf’s first year in government, providing a unique insight into the workings of a newly elected African cabinet.
9 short documentary films available on the website of One World and Czech TV
(original language version w/English subtitles)
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Director: Teboho Edkins
Producer: Don Edkins
Editor: Netti Kurtzbach
Kinshasa 2.0 tells the story of how the arrest of Marie-Thérèse Nlandu, a woman from a prominent political family in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was publicised through the Internet and resulted in filmmaker Teboho Edkins visiting Kinshasa to see how the arrest has affected the family. His film explores a tense, militarised Kinshasa, where it is extremely difficult to film, and using Second Life – a 3D virtual chat program - he looks at his friend Carine’s attempt to keep in contact with her aunt Marie-Thérèse after she is released and goes into exile in Belgium. The film moves between the real city and the animated world of Second Life accompanied by a silent observer – a wooden soldier that appears on the edge of most scenes observing, waiting, watching…
Country: South Africa
Director: Lucilla Blankenberg
Producer: Lederle Bosch
Editor: Jari Heikkinen
Riaan Cruywagen has been reading the news on television since it arrived in South Africa in 1976. He prides himself in the nickname “The face of news in South Africa” and his record of the longest serving Afrikaans news reader in the world. In the context of South Africa’s spectacular transformation to democracy, Riaan explains how his professional ethics have kept him in the news reader’s seat.
MY BODY MY WEAPON
Director: Kavita Joshi
Producer: Kavita Joshi
Editor: SaiKat S. Ray
Irom Sharmila is a young woman of Manipur who has been on a fast-to-death for nearly 7 years now. She has been demanding the removal of a brutal law from her land. Manipur is a north-east Indian state (bordering Myanmar), riven for decades by insurgency and armed separatist movements. The Government of India has attempted to control the situation militarily, granting drastic powers to the security forces. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act enforced in the region lets people be arrested, shot and even killed - on suspicion alone. But Sharmila is willing to stake everything – even her life – to restore justice and dignity to her people.
Director: Zoe D'Amaro
Producer: Amber Bordewijk
Editor: Marco Della Coletta
The right to freedom of speech is an essential element to democracy. In our so-called democratic countries, is there space for a concrete exercise of such inviolable right? Or is its guarantee a utopian Constitutional ideal? In 2002, pirate local TV stations started to spread throughout the Italian territory, as a response to the lack of public access television and a statement against the oligarchic control over the most influential medium. The film explores the intriguing story of what became known as the Telestreet network through the personal experience of the members of Orfeo TV, the pirate station who initiated the movement.
YOU CANNOT HIDE FROM ALLAH
Director: Petr Lom
Producer: Petr Lom
Editor: Petr Lom
This is the story of Mr Ihsan Khan. An immigrant from a small town in the Northwest Frontier Provinces in Pakistan, Mr Khan was a taxi cab driver in Washington DC for over twenty years. And then, in 2001 he won the lottery, $54 million to be exact. Four years later, he decided to put his money to some good: and so he returned to his hometown in Pakistan and ran for Mayor. And he won. This film tells the story of our lottery-winning Mayor, how he deals with the neverending complaints of corruption, and demands that he personally solve all the problems of his constituents. What is the relation between money and politics in a democracy? That is the underlying question in this film. For some allege Mr. Khan has used his own wealth to gain political power. His defenders say he works for free and has donated more than a million dollars of his own wealth for post-earthquake disaster relief (in this town that was devastated by the enormous 2005 earthquake in Pakistan). And he says his number one aim is to fight corruption. Who is right? Democratic politics, is after all, a very messy business, where everyone has the right to raise their voice and file a complaint, demand, or offer their praise…
Director: Sadaf Foroughi
Producer: Sadaf Foroughi
Editor: Erez Laufer / Sadaf Foroughi
In the male dominated society of Iran, Farahnaz Shiri, the first female bus driver in Tehran, has made her own little society in her bus. In Iran there are different sections for men and women on public buses. Women should enter buses from the back door, which is separated from men’s entrance, and should sit or stay in a limited zone at the end of the buses which is separated from men’s zone. But in Mrs. Shiri’s bus everything is vice-versa. She is the governor and the only law maker of her own little society. In her bus, men must enter from the backdoor entrance and must sit or stay in the limited zone at the end of the bus. Mrs. Shiri is struggling to prove herself in this society and resisting a series of injustices that she faces as a woman in the Iranian society.
Director: Ivan Golovnev
Producer: Andrei Golovnev
Editor: Yuri Yatsencko
The dialogue between people, nature and gods is based upon a sacred knowledge and mythology. In the modern world only a few cultures based on myth survive. This film takes us into the word of Old Peter, the last surviving Shaman of the Kazym River. We see Old Peter surviving on the Siberian taiga and follow him going to cast his vote. The region of the Khanty people is the basic source of oil recovery in Russia. About 70 percent of all Russian oil is extracted here. The oil companies actively buy huge territories in the North of Siberia. Indigenous people are compelled to leave these places, their own patrimonial territories, and so a modern civilization gradually absorbs an ancient culture. Old Peter votes in every election but this has not helped to stop the destruction of his culture through massive oil extraction.
ON THE SQUARE
Director: Vanja Juranic
Producer: Vanja Jambrovic
Editor: Vanja Juranic
Croatia is small country where people like to take big vacations. No-one wants remember that Croatia used to be Yugoslavia. But someone on the town square in Zagreb reminds them.
COMING OF AGE
Director: Judy Kibinge
Producer: Ruby Kangethe
Editor: Ronelle Loots / Kyalo Thomas
This coming of age story depicts the three ages and stages of democracy as seen through the eyes of a girl growing up. The Kenyatta era, a time of great optimism and post-independence euphoria is reflected in the innocence and naivety of the young girl. As Kenya enters its next era, of dictatorship under Daniel arap Moi, the gloom of oppression and confusion is reflected by teenage turmoil and finally, all grown up, we find ourselves in Kenyas third stage of democracy under Mwai Kibaki and wondering if democracy, with all its free speech and openness can ever really come of age.