For those who are waiting for the 24th Seoul Human Rights Film Festival 2019
- The information for calling films is below this announcement.
After finishing the 23rd Seoul Human Rights Film Festival (SHRFF) in 2018, the SHRFF activists have been constantly discussing about how to continue with the SHRFF in the future and activities after the festival. We also talked to many human rights activists who made film festivals together and discussed about the future of SHRFF.
After a lengthy discussion, we decided to hold the Seoul Human Rights Film Festival every two years. So, we will not be holding the 24th Seoul Human Rights Film Festival in 2019. The 24th Seoul Human Rights Film Festival will be held in 2020. I am sorry for many viewers who were expecting the 24th SHRFF in 2019. It is not just about lack of funds or lack of activists. A tight, once-a-year cycle has been a great pressure for SHRFF. Now, we hope to focus more on making the process of organizing the film festival as a part of the human rights activism.
As many of you may know, the SHRFF has been financially at risk every year, has been on the black list, and had difficulties finding places for showing. However, we refused to give up these principles – ‘Free screening', 'not receiving sponsorship from the government and businesses', and 'refusing film classification'. These principles are a declaration that "human rights films should be seen without any discrimination", and these principles have made SHRFF a human rights group. Over the years, the principles of SHRFF have expanded; including thoughts about accessibility rights for audiences with disabilities, concerns about the revision of the law on the promotion of movies and videos, the question of how to participate in #Metoo as a film festival, joining the BDS movement against Israel and concerns about activities to resist the power structure in creative productions.
As such, the annual festival has become an opportunity to go beyond an annual event and to think about how to deal with the new human rights agenda every year. Film festivals included screening human rights films and discussing about which films to show and not show. Every year, new activists grew together and worked together to narrow the gap between human rights activities and the audience. Activists worked to make all the screenings and conversations available in a more accessible way, and discussed about which venues to show, what words to use and which audiences to meet. SHRFF has become an activity that covers all these things.
If the importance of ‘Human Rights Film Festival’ were decided upon how often the festival is held and how many ‘good’ human rights films are shown, SHRFF could seem to be doing unimportant activities. By putting sign language interpretation in films, we not only delivered the content of the film, but also proposed new Korean sign language expressions without bias. In putting audio description, we looked into every word, one by one, to not discriminate anyone. The principles of SHRFF might be considered as too slow or absurd as a festival. However, we have made SHRFF slowly: and we wish to keep this slowness, and carefully asking you to make the future of SHRFF together.
It was indeed very difficult to continue the film festival with a free-screening principle and without any government or corporate sponsorship. It is difficult to think about the ‘film’ and ‘film festival’ separately from capital. SHRFF had to continuously worry about the sustainability of our activities. To watch and listen to videos together with the audience, a minimum of equipment, space, and supply of works must be provided. Even if we hold screenings indoors or reduce the size of the festival, it is still impossible to not ‘spend money’ as a film festival. Every year, after holding the festival in May, we had to focus on paying off debts for the festival until the beginning of the next year. Then, in next May, we were in debt again. During this process, wage of full-time activists has never increased over the last few years. Full-time activists have been paid with less than 50% of the minimum wage for many years.
Last year, the year before, and the year before... a financial deficit has been our concern. We were too busy with holding the annual festival to think about how to strengthen SHRFF as a human rights organization. The decision to host SHRFF every two years could be made, because SHRFF is not just a festival. Each step of making Seoul Human Rights Film Festival is a human rights action. Thus, we need enough time to enrich the substance of the organization. Also, we need to guarantee the stable wage for full-time activists, who brings SHRFF together and organizes activities.
I had a lot of trouble while writing this article. I am worried at this moment too. It is one of the most difficult and painful writings that I wrote as an SHRFF activist. However, I would like to ask for your support for the SHRFF this year like last time. I look forward to seeing you in 2019, not at the '24th' Seoul Human Rights Film Festival, but at other activities of SHRFF.
In 2019, the SHRFF seeks to organize activities that SHRFF has been doing to realize the accessibility rights and to investigate cases to plan activities with more accessibility for people with disabilities. Accessibility rights must be realized, not only at film festivals, but also at all events. To this end, SHRFF would like to visit the overseas human rights film festivals, meet people with disabilities who are making human rights film festivals together, and network with many human rights activists who are already practicing accessibility rights in their activities. SHRFF is not stopping human rights movies screening completely. We will continue to show SHRFF screenings at various venues where those films are needed, through regular screening sessions and screening support. We have categorized the films screened in the past and archived the keywords according to various themes, which makes it possible for anyone to understand the trends of human rights issues and have access to those films. We also desire to join the Human Rights Film Festival network to share the process of hosting human rights film festival in diverse places.
As a human rights organization, if we are allowed more time from hosting an annual event, we would like to have more intensive discussions about what kind of activities to carry out. We are worried, but also excited to imagine the 2019 of SHRFF. It is a slow, unstable, and still cautious and difficult step; but as a human rights organization, we want to continue our activities while protecting human rights values. We would like to ask you to join us in supporting the Seoul Human Rights Film Festival and the friends who are involved in human rights activism. We look forward to seeing you soon.
- Calling international films for the 24th Seoul Human Rights Film Festival will start around October 2019. (to be announced) However, if you want to share private link of your film for preview now, please send the link by replay this e-mail.
- The recruitment of new volunteers for the 24th Seoul Human Rights Film Festival will start around October 2019. (to be announced)
In February 2019,
Seoul Human Rights Film Festival