Out of Africa

I’ve barely recovered from Branchage and already it’s time for the next big event in Jersey’s film calendar. Founded by Amy Allen, Matthew Winpenny and Richard Wainwright and endorsed by Amnesty International, the Jersey Amnesty Human Rights Film Festival is back for its sixth year with a range of films, exhibitions and talks. Aiming to reach a large cross section of the community and encourage greater engagement with human rights issues the festival runs from Monday 15th of November through until Friday 19th of November at Jersey Arts Centre.

After pushing the boat out last year and founder Wainwight leaving the island, Festival Chair Collette Crill informed me that initially the committee were hoping this year to dial back the size and scope of the festival. With events happening every night and talks taking place in schools during the day, it’s clear that the festival and Jersey’s enthusiasm for it can’t help but grow. One thing that is different is that whereas in the past the festival has featured an eclectic range of issues, this year it is focusing solely on Africa. Across the five nights, exhibitions take us across the continent from the Niger Delta to Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia and Zimbabwe as well as considering the issues closer to home.

Frankly every night offers something both entertaining and provocative and certainly worth your time. The two standouts for me are Tuesday night’s The Cutting Tradition which is narrated by Meryl Streep and focuses on the practice of female genital mutilation (not for the faint of heart) and Wednesday’s Enjoy Poverty which offers an unconventional and controversial look at the use of suffering as a resource and how the African people have failed to profit from the exploitation of their misery. Every night also offers talks from expert speakers including directors, producers and journalists. After Friday night’s showing of Mugabe and the White African the speaker is Shepherd Yuba who was hounded out of Zimbabwe after secretly making a short film exposing the rigged elections.

The festival offers world class films that would otherwise never have made it to these shores and open and honest debate about important subjects impacting the world right now. It has all been put on and held together by a dedicated team of volunteers fuelled purely by their passion for these issues. I implore you to get down to the Arts Centre and to attend as many of these showings as possible. Surely this is more worthy of your hard earned cash than Michael Bay’s giant robot testicle fetish?