"I FEEL the pain. It was a mixture of astonishment and sadness," the subtitle from one of the films read. There was no need for subtitles, one always felt for the images conveyed all the emotions. The usual fanfare and huge crowds that one gets to see in film fests was missing at the first International film festival to come to the city.

This did not come as a surprise though, for it was meant for a different kind of audience. And the films that were screened were from a different genre. Images from the battlefield, death, destruction and struggle to lead a honourable life from distant lands were vividly depicted in the films that were screened during the International Travelling Film Festival of the Human Rights Watch brought to the city for the first time by the Coimbatore Human Rights Forum (CHRF) in association with Rotary District 3200.

Though no Indian films were screened, the viewers showed interest in the festival for the simple reason that the sufferings and ordeals shown in these films were about real life situations.

"It is a good initiative. One does not get to see documentaries of this kind in the city very often. Some of the movies were really very interesting," says Nilen, of II B.Sc (Visual Communication), CSI Bishop Appasamy College.

The German film "Pinochet's Children" hogged much of the limelight. Directed by Paula Rodriguez, the film vividly brought out the trauma in the lives of three persons due to the political turmoil in Chile. Alejandro Goic, Enrique Paris, both in their teens lose their fathers during the `infamous coup' authored by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. All the three undergo tough times.

Later they become powerful student leaders in the tumultuous eighties. The second film on day two "When the war is over" is about the struggle against apartheid. In this film the director Francois Verster presents an apt and frightening depiction of life in Bonteheuvel, South Africa.

Quite a few students, especially those specialising mass communication, came in large numbers for the fest.

"One can relate the incidents shown in these films to conditions in India," says K Anandatheerthan, a documentary filmmaker.


"The films are based on real life incidents. It took almost a year to complete to some of these movies," says Prasanna Poornachandra of the International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care.

"Human rights violations happen in all places in the world. Only after seeing them you come to know the value of the rights that you have in the country."

There were discussions and debates about the films every day during the four-day festival.

"We sent invitations to students, professionals and people from all sections of the society.

Based on the feedback from the participants, we are planning to produce similar films in regional languages," says J S Charry, programme coordinator of CHRF.


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