Geneva rights fest to focus on corruption in India

August 25th, 2011 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Locarno (Switzerland), Aug 25 (IANS) Guess what the 10th edition of the Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) in Geneva is planning to spotlight next year? Corruption in India, a country that features in it for the first time.

“In 2012, we would be doing a special topic on the issue of corruption in India and the impact of corruption as on human rights in India,” Leo Kaneman, director general of the festival, told IANS in an interview.

“We have invited (journalist) Tarun Tejpal and he will be a member of the international jury this year. We are in the process of developing the programme for the special event on India. During the festival, we have a special subject and debate and on one of the key evenings, we will have India and problem of corruption there,” he added.

The decision comes at a time when an anti-corruption campaign is at its peak in India.

But Kaneman’s interest in India was generated during a vacation. He happened to read about the caste system and it kind of motivated him to put the focus on India.

“I went to India this year. I was holidaying in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. When I was in India, I spoke to a lot of people and read a lot and what struck me was the issue of the caste system and specially how corruption can play a role in maintaining certain people in power through the caste system,” he said.

“India is very important to us because it is the biggest democracy in the world. The first time we will be doing an issue on India. We talked about China earlier,” he added.

Right now he is looking for films and documentaries from India that talk about corruption and human right issues.

“At the moment, we are looking at recent Indian films that depict the issue. We can also look at documentaries and fiction. The objective of the festival is to denounce human rights violations. But we do not do it in an non-ideological way and it is very important to have debates to understand the issue,” said Kaneman.

Started in 2003, according to Kaneman, FIFDH is one of the most important film festivals on human rights in Europe.

“We have a cultural approach regarding the artistic quality of the film. We believe the better a film from the artistic point of view, the better the message gets through to advocate human rights.

“The second approach we have is cultural and also political. We are a free platform that can speak out on a lot of issues…”

The very first patron of the festival was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who was killed in Baghdad in 2003.

“The festival lasts 10 days and every year and every day there is a new topic or subject related to human rights. In the last years, we invited Luis Moreno Ocampo,
general prosecutor for the international criminal court. We talked a lot about Iran. We have denounced terrorism.”

(Arpana can be contacted at arpana.s@ians.in)

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