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Setting up a Human Rights Film Festival, vol. 2

The second edition of Setting up a Human Rights Film Festival is an "a to z" guide on the how-to's of organizing a human rights film festival. Written by festival organizers from around the world, the second edition of Setting up a Human Rights Film Festival focuses on the needs and challenges of festivals that are sprouting all over the developing world and those in countries where democratic systems are still emergent or non-existent.

While drawing on some common experiences to all human rights film festivals, such as programming screenings and thematic discussions or dealing with technical production and team-building, the handbook does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, its pages offer a varied tapestry of stories about festivals that face vastly different realities around the world: from rural communities in Sierra Leone and Bolivia to urban settings in Jordan and Guatemala; from prisons and the Maidan in Ukraine to a refugee camp in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

The book's authors offer first-hand experiences and lessons learned on the many tasks needed for a successful festival including fundraising, stretching resources to the maximum, overcoming seemingly insurmountable logistical problems, approaching new audiences unfamiliar with film, involving the human rights community, dealing with censorship and security threats and evaluating results. There is a chapter on how human rights films strengthen educational systems and help raise awareness among youngsters, as well as case studies featuring festivals that take place in contexts such as political violence, the quest for truth and justice, occupation and political exile, censorship, poverty and marginalization.

The overarching aim of the manual is to provide the necessary know-how to festival organizers so that the events they organize can serve as effective tools for social change -- whether by raising awareness among key influencers and general audiences, or through the empowerment of local communities engaged in struggles for social justice.

Human rights-themed films aim for maximum impact, and human rights film festivals play a crucial role in ensuring that the films reach their target audiences, which include key influencers, social movements, activists and everyday citizens. This manual seeks to strengthen the collaboration between these communities by providing existing and emerging film festivals with the tools necessary to create an effective human rights eco-system that can lead to social transformation.

The handbook is edited by One World in Prague, Movies that Matter in Amsterdam and FiSahara in the Sahrawi refugee camps of Algeria. One World, the lead editor, published the first edition of the handbook in 2009. A Spanish version, combining the 1st and 2nd edition, was published in 2016, followed by a full Arabic translation in December 2017. Movies that Matter published a French translation of the book in November 2019.

If you would like to order a hardcopy of the handbook, please contact us by sending an email to "international[at]". The handbook is free of charge. A mailing fee may be requested, depending on where to send the book. Follow the links below to read or download the free full versions of the handbook, or browse through the chapters and case studies.


Download full version of the handbook


Download full version of the handbook


Download full version of the handbook


Download full version of the handbook 

Read full version online

Individual chapters 

We Are Making a Change, Don’t Forget: Introduction                                         (read online / download this chapter)

Human Rights Film Festivals:  Different Approaches to Change the World         (read online / download this chapter)

Knowing Yourself and Your Audience: Programming a Human Rights Film Festival   (read online / download this chapter)

Film Festivals with Guts: Security and Censorship                                             (read online / download this chapter)

Now What Do You Think? Film Festivals as a Platform for Discussion               (read online / download this chapter)

Who Is Organising It? Importance of Production and Team Members                 (read online / download this chapter)

The Nuts and Bolts: Technical Production                                                          (read online / download this chapter)

How to Successfully Promote Your Festival                                                        (read online / download this chapter)

Adding Water to the Soup Pot: Finding Resources for Your Festival                   (read online / download this chapter)

Did We Do It Right? Evaluating a Human Rights Film Festival                             (read online / download this chapter)

Case studies

Karama Human Rights Film Festival in Jordan: “Dignity, where to?”                   (read online / download this case study)

Dare to Document: Advocating Human Rights Through Films in Malaysia        (read online download this case study)

Sowing the Seeds for a Human Rights Film Festival in Burma                            (read online / download this case study)

Ciné Droit Libre: A Festival of Mobile Cinema Screenings in Burkina Faso        (read online / download this case study)

FiSahara: A Film Festival in Exile                                                                       (read online / download this case study)

Docudays UA: a Festival in the Heart of a Citizen’s Revolution                         (read online / download this case study)

Human Rights Film Festival in Guatemala Ushers In Criticism And Dialogue    (read online / download this case study)

Opening Eyes in Sierra Leone: The Opin Yu Yi Human Rights Film Festival       (read online / download this case study)

The Next Wave: Building a Legacy Through Education                                      (read online / download this case study)


Festival Members of Human Rights Film Network                                            (read online / download this appendix)

Want to become a Member of Human Rights Film Network?                            (read online / download this appendix)