For 20 years, the Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo marched around the May Pyramid practically alone. In March 1996, the squares of the country were filled with a multitude of citizens crying out, “Nunca Más” (Never Again). That year we managed to organize the first Human Rights Film Festival, which would take place in March 1997. Argentine society was shaking off the trauma of State terrorism, and the social condemnation of the dictatorship was spreading like wildfire.
In its first years of existence, the Festival focused its attention on the genocide perpetrated in the 70s. However, by 2001, the cinema of memory was accompanied by social realism. This is because the dictatorship was not only responsible for the genocide of 30,000 people but also laid the foundation for a new economic structure that left millions of Argentines in poverty.
In 2003 we launched the Festival in Santiago del Estero and added two new themes: women’s rights and gender diversity, a topic that had not been discussed in Argentina except within the Argentine Homosexual Community (CHA), co-organizers of the event. In the following years, the Festival proved to be a living organism: the vision began to broaden to include a multitude of issues now being raised on the global stage, which gave rise to new sections. So much so, that in 2010 a creature was born: the International Environmental Film Festival [FINCA].
The Festival has had an international character since its inception, participating in the founding of the International Human Rights Film Network (HRFN) in Prague in 2005. Likewise, in 2007, we organized the seminar Testimonies of International Solidarity jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at their headquarters, in collaboration with the National Secretariat of Human Rights, human rights organizations, and the International Organization for Migration. Numerous foreign personalities contributed to the event, demanding that the Argentine military dictatorship respect human rights.
Keeping pace with the times and with a view to the future, this edition opens the window to digital rights, the conquest of which is becoming increasingly urgent.
Over these past 20 years, governments of different political stances have come and gone. However, we have not accepted the theory of the two demons, nor the pardon, nor the co-optation of human rights organizations, nor the denial of the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, nor the Argentine genocide. The Festival requests spaces to fulfill its mission and promote socially committed cinema that addresses human rights issues while maintaining its independence from the state. This is our raison d’être.
As we celebrate, fully in person at last, the twentieth edition of the International Human Rights Film Festival and the 26 years of the foundation of the Instituto Multimedia DerHumALC (Human Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean – IMD), we zoom in on one of the most current and controversial topics: digital rights in the age of data capitalism.
Cyber rights, closely linked to freedom of expression and privacy, are those that allow people to access, use, create and publish digital media, as well as access and use computers, other electronic devices and communications networks to exercise said rights.
Today, the Internet is a disputed territory and everything we do online leaves a “digital footprint.” Therefore, our motto #Trazades (Tracked) is a reminder that our personal data is processed by private companies or governments unbeknownst to us and, in many cases, for profit or social control purposes.
We still don’t know to what extent digital technologies have remodeled our relationship with our bodies and territories in favor of job insecurity and the colonial extractivism of bodies, data and natural resources aimed at sustaining a system based on programmed obsolescence.
In collaboration with IT companies specializing in data manipulation, different governments have taken advantage of the pandemic and the resulting increase in digitization to implement special laws and carry out networked electronic surveillance activities that limit the human rights of citizens by tracking, censoring, controlling and conditioning their actions.
The purpose of this edition is, therefore, to question, through film, the technologies that reinforce power asymmetries, focusing on inequalities and abuses in order to achieve a critical and sustainable use of digital tools that will allow us to move forward conscientiously and with determination towards the socio-environmental justice we long for.
In order to strengthen the digital security of people, artists and activists who have been victims of persecution and smear campaigns on social networks, among other forms of censorship and abuse, we have partnered with ARC and Global Voices to conduct an online workshop that encourages reflection on the risks associated with new technologies and the creation of support networks.
In addition to looking back on the most emblematic films in our history through the FICDH 20 Editions Retrospective, we wanted to take a look at social impact films through two organizations that support the work of changemakers in the Asia Pacific region, as shown by the Engage Media Window, and globally, as in the case of the SIMA Window.
Let us #Trazades unite and fight for am open, safe, ethical, and free Internet!
President of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo
We are delighted to participate in our beloved International Human Rights Film Festival (FICDH). Ever since its first edition, back in 1997, with the genocides still at large and unpunished in Argentina, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo have supported it. At first, as a space for the diffusion of Memory films that sprouted in the midst of official oblivion, pardons, Full Stop and Due Obedience, and which would flourish shortly after, under the heat of the many turning points our people have reached.
These were deeply political films made against the backdrop of the so-called “end of history.” During our struggle, the search for our granddaughters and grandsons appropriated during the terrorism enforced by the State during the dictatorship, we have often been told to “forget it, go home,”, or “Your grandchild is fine where they are,” or “You should have taken better care of your daughter,” and atrocities of the sort. But, as mothers and grandmothers, we went out to fight for our families, and we understood that we had to do it together because we would not get anywhere separately.
History never ends; neither with decrees, nor with laws, nor with the biased and self-interested versions we get from the powers that be whose objective is that we stay at home, let sleeping dogs lie—as they told us. History “grows from the foot”, as Zitarrosa sang. And so, our claim for Memory, Truth and Justice grew, and art, culture and film in particular, were there to narrate, reflect, interpret, to give so many lives and silenced stories, to so many injustices, a voice and an image on the screen.
And the FICDH, now in its 20th edition, has been part of this movement and has been growing and adapting to the times. Thanks to its initiatives, we have learned about social realities that are not seen in the media, situations of rights violations across the five continents, experiences of organization, moving testimonies, stories rescued from the well of oblivion. As it has controlled the narrative, as they say, it has consistently focused on current issues, and this year is no exception.
Bravo. That’s what it’s all about. We are confident that the youth is grateful for the existence of areas of reflection and debate such as this one. Without an understanding of the past and the present, we will hardly be able to shape the future we dream of. Let’s keep on dreaming.