Q&A: Alithia Baram­pataz, hu­man rights of­fi­cer

The hu­man rights ad­vo­cate talks about the grow­ing suc­cess of the PNG Hu­man Rights Film Fes­ti­val, tour­ing the coun­try from Septem­ber un­til Novem­ber.

Paradise - - Contents - The PNG Hu­man Rights Film Fes­ti­val runs from Septem­ber 28 un­til Novem­ber 2. See face­book.com/PNGHRFF.

What is the fes­ti­val about?

It’s an an­nual fes­ti­val in its ninth year, show­ing films about hu­man rights is­sues that im­pact PNG, such as gen­der-based vi­o­lence, the right to health and land, and free­dom of speech. This year, we are show­ing between 25 and 30 films, as short as five min­utes up to fea­ture length. The fes­ti­val trav­els to Port Moresby, Madang, Goroka and Bougainville. Last year, more than 1000 peo­ple at­tended: it’s one of those catchy events that can in­spire peo­ple of all ages and back­grounds.

How did you get in­volved?

In 2010, I came home to Port Moresby after study­ing in the US, and be­came in­volved with the fes­ti­val com­mit­tee. It was the first year of the fes­ti­val. In 2013, I be­came the na­tional hu­man rights of­fi­cer for the United Na­tions Of­fice of the High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights, which leads the fes­ti­val com­mit­tee, so I’ve been lucky enough to be in­volved ev­ery year since the be­gin­ning.

What’s the theme of this year’s fes­ti­val?

This year’s theme is ‘ Tokaut nau long senisim tumora’. It means ‘Speak up to­day to change to­mor­row’. We’re high­light­ing films that show the change that one in­di­vid­ual can in­spire or make. We want to em­pha­sise that you don’t have to be a lawyer or some­one with a lot of money to make change. In­cluded in the line-up are three short films by PNG film­mak­ers. They cover the right to ed­u­ca­tion, sor­cery ac­cu­sa­tion-re­lated vi­o­lence and the chal­lenges of liv­ing in a mod­ern so­ci­ety with strong tra­di­tional in­flu­ences. It’s amaz­ing how they’re able to bring you on a full jour­ney in just 10 min­utes.

Is a hu­man rights film fes­ti­val nec­es­sary?

Art has the power to move peo­ple. There is an ap­petite among the PNG pub­lic to learn more about hu­man rights is­sues, and the fes­ti­val is a rare chance to en­gage with pub­lic of­fi­cials and NGOs work­ing in this space. Some top­ics can be very del­i­cate to dis­cuss pub­licly, such as do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Film cre­ates enough dis­tance so that you’re able to first talk about the film, then re­flect on your own sit­u­a­tion. Each night, we show films with a com­mon theme, and have an in­ter­ac­tive panel dis­cus­sion with the au­di­ence on how that is­sue af­fects PNG and how peo­ple can get in­volved in ad­dress­ing it.

Where are the films from?

The PNG films fea­ture lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing Naga­muifa and Goroka in East­ern High­lands Prov­ince, as well as scenes shot in East New Bri­tain, Madang, Milne Bay as well as Port Moresby and the ur­ban vil­lage of Vabukori, in the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Dis­trict. They’re in Tok Pisin, English and some have lo­cal Tok Ples lan­guages/ di­alects as well, while the in­ter­na­tional films are in a range of lan­guages, from Kiri­bati to Swahili, with English sub­ti­tles.

– BELINDA JACK­SON

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