To activate the film community’s collective response to cases of filmmakers facing severe risk, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the European Film Academy officially joined forces at Venice on September 6 to officially establish the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICRF).
Marion Döring (Director, European Film Academy), Mike Downey, (Chairman, EFA), Vanja Kaludjercic (Director, IFFR) and Orwa Nyrabia (Artistic Director, IDFA) explained the ICFR’s raison d’être and modus operandi at the festival’s Spazio Incontri.
The mission of the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICRF) is to advocate for, and act in solidarity with, filmmakers at risk, to access support systems and to engage in ongoing monitoring and observation processes.
The Coalition will closely collaborate with an international network of strategic partners made up of international film networks, affiliated NGOs, international human rights and ambassadors. It will respond to cases of persecution or threats to the personal safety of filmmakers at risk and will defend their right to continue their work, by mobilizing the international film community.
A Coalition statement released September 7 stressed: “With civil society in danger around the world, filmmakers are increasingly struggling to make their voices heard. Over the past few years, the world has seen a growing number of filmmakers being threatened, arrested, imprisoned and even killed in an attempt to silence them.
“In these critical situations, the international film community could make a difference in supporting campaigns for the freedom of these filmmakers or pressuring authorities for their release. As the response of the film community has so far been deeply fragmentized, more co-ordinated action is needed.”
“Film Festivals and institutions have always been involved in supporting filmmakers in danger but never has there been an organization to co-ordinate this,” said IDFA’s Orwa Nyrabia.
EFA chair and producer Downey added: “Now we are operational we have approximately six or seven cases that we are actively dealing with on various levels. The world is changing rapidly and artists are more and more at risk in various hotspots across the world, especially Belarus and Iran right now. The ICFR will work to cover as many cases as it can, and the individual institutions behind the coalition, EFA, IDFA and IFFR will also act autonomously and individually on certain cases.”
In Venice, Downey also read a statement from Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov who was released from a Russian prison in September 2019 after 5 years in captivity:
“We live in strange times, when freedom of speech, thought, creativity, in most civilized countries of the world seems to be won, but at the same time, in some countries, thousands of people are being oppressed by their rights from government structures. It’s just that now the people of Belarus are fighting the bloody dictator, just as we Ukrainians fought for our freedom a few years ago. Entire theatres are resigning, artists are experiencing illegal detentions, terrible beatings, large fines for their opinion, work, art, creativity,” wrote Sentsov.
“No human rights should be violated. No artist’s right to work should be violated. Each of us has an inviolable, guaranteed opportunity for both civic and creative expression. And each of us must take responsibility for the observance of these principles of freedom and art, coming to the aid of our colleagues, talking about the existence of this problem in society, highlighting it in our work and infospace… I urge you to support [the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk] because only together we are strong and able to change the world for the better.”