Human Rights on screen to raise through films and documentaries consciousness about human rights abuses, foster human rights culture and tell global stories of human rights defenders. From 7 to 13 July  the complex of Santa Maria dello Spasimo in Palermo will host the 14th edition of the Sole Luna Doc Film Festival organized by the association Sole Luna – a bridge between cultures – under the artistic direction of Chiara Andrich and Andrea Mura.

50 screenings, including 20 premieres, 24 films in competition between feature films and short films. Concerts, meetings with authors, book presentations, debates add to very challenging film festival. The 2019 edition will pay homage to an outstanding director Bernardo Bertolucci with the screenings of some of his films particularly tuned in to Sole Luna Film Festival’s values and vocation. Carefully films and documentaries relating to global challenges of our times will put in the spotlight lesser- known but daring stories from all over the world, immersive witnesses of the fight against human rights abuses.

Freedom Women“, a monographic showcase by Giancarlo Bocchi will be premiered with six documentaries that spotlight women at the forefront defending rights and freedom in six of the most dangerous areas in the world where women must strive on a daily basis for their rights to be recognised: Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, Chechnya, Kurdistan, Western Sahara.

Three sections in competition: Human Rights, documentaries portraying stories of denied or achieved rights; The Journey, the human dimension of journey as a real or metaphoric experience; Short Docs on crucial issues of our times.



CHILDREN OF THE SNOWLAND by Zara Balfour and Marcus Stephenson – The story of a group of children born in the High Himalayas of Nepal where life is extremely tough. From just four years old, some children are sent by their parents to the capital city, Kathmandu, to a school run by a Buddhist monk in the hope that education will give them a better chance in life. For ten years or more they do not see or speak to their parents, due to the remoteness of their villages. Upon graduation, aged 16, the children are coming back home where their parents are waiting to see children brought up in a world of mobile phones, social media and most modern conveniences.

THOSE WHO REMAIN by Ester Sparatore – Om El Khir’s husband has disappeared. One morning, he left on a boat for Europe and she has since received no evidence on whether he is dead or alive. Alongside 503 other Tunisian women (mainly the mothers of the disappeared), she is in search for the truth, fighting so that these men do not fall into oblivion and rallying for justice to be done. The filmmaker documents the birth of a new problematic and political space of protest. The story of these Tunisian women, present-day Antigone, shifts our perspective and reveals that the disappeared are now the victims of a Europe that has become a fortress.

CONGO LUCHA by Marlène Rabaud – Lucha is a moving documentary on a group of young people promoting democracy and human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Shot in Goma, in the East, over a two-year time span the film is a tribute to the commitment of young activists risking their lives to build a democracy against Kabila’s longstanding dictatorship.

PAJU by Susanne Mi-Son Quester – A German-Korean filmmaker travels to the border between North and South Korea to the town of Paju where she encounters its residents and their various attitudes toward the division of their country. The film renders an insightful portrait of a country whose division is a deeply intimate issue for its inhabitants.

WHAT WALAA WANTS by Christy Garland – Director Christy Garland’s documentary follows the rebel Palestinian girl Walaa over the course of five years, from age 15 to 20. Her mother was incarcerated in an Israeli prison for eight years and she is eager to join the Palestinian National Authority even if she profoundly distrusts any kind of authority.

ABOUT A WAR by Daniele Rugo e Abi Weaver – The Lebanese Civil War saw 170,000 dead, 1 million displaced and 17,000 people still missing. During the conflict thousands of teenagers picked up arms to fight in a 15 -year war that tore the nation apart. In 1990, the Taif agreement brought the warring parties into a power sharing government. An amnesty wiped out all crimes, militiamen were reintegrated back into society, while many fighters became anonymous. Moving through the testimonies of Assad, a right-wing Christian intelligence officer; Ahed, a Palestinian refugee fighter and Nassim, a Communist commander, the documentary unravels the personal motivations, trauma and regret of militiamen who picked up arms during a civil war that radically transformed the Middle East.

LAILA AT THE BRIDGE by Elizabeth and Gulistan Mirzaei – Afghanistan is the country with the world’s largest opium production and export. In Afghanistan live the greatest number of heroin addicts. Many of them are left to their own destiny in the ravines of Kabul. Wars and corruption fuel the opium trade being institutions totally absent when not corrupted. Laila struggles to help these people housing them in her centres.

ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS by Gabrielle Brady – Christmas Island is a small island in the Indian Ocean where every year forty million crabs make their way through dense jungle to sea. On the same island hundreds of migrants, asylum-seekers wait indefinitely in Australian detention facility. Following a trauma therapist, film director explores the island and speaks to her clients.

STRONGER THAN A BULLET by Maryam Ebrahim – The testimony of Saeid Sadeghi a photographer during the Iran–Iraq War. Government propaganda and Khomeinism ideology portraited in the Saeid Sadeghi’s pictures. Once a firm supporter of the Iranian Revolution, now Saeid Sadeghi is remorseful, haunted by regret, feeling responsibility for the deaths of countless soldiers.

ALGANESH by Lia and Marianna Beltrami –The film follows four Eritrean refugee camps in Ethiopia, following years of deadly conflicts between the two countries. The protagonist of the film is Alganesh Fessah, an Italian-Eritrean Ayurvedic doctor and co-founder of a charity group, who has been devoted to helping refugees. The film documents her commitment and struggle in securing refugees’ rights, while trying to secure them the basic necessities of life such as water.



MY HOME, IN LIBYA by Martina Melilli – The story of Antonio and Narcisa Melilli, two of the over 20,000 Italians who were born in Libya when it was an Italian colony and forced to leave the country just after Gaddafi’s coup d’état. With the help of Mahmoud, a young Libyan contacted on social media, the film maker collects images of her grandparents‘ Tripoli as it is today.



LA FIGLIA DEL CAUCASO – The story of Lidia Yusupova who set up a branch of the Memorial society in Chechnya, becoming one of the few voices to tell the world of the atrocities committed by both sides in the conflict. Defined by Amnesty International as “one of the most courageous women in Europe”, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and a friend of the journalist Anna Politkovskaja, Lidia has often received death threats,

LA PICCOLA GUERRIGLIERA – Until the age of fourteen, Zoya Phan lived in the Burmese jungle, “the green land” of the Karen, among the guerrillas of Karen National Liberation Army who, for sixty years, have been fighting the longest armed resistance in contemporary history. Her mother commanded a female guerrilla unit. Her father, an important figure in the KNU, the Karen political wing. After the bombardment of her village, Zoya joined the thousands of fugitives and spent two years living in a refugee camp in Thailand. Her father, who had become the political head of all the Karen, was killed in February 2008 by the Burmese regime. Hunted by the military, Zaya escaped and requested political asylum in the UK. From that moment, she became one of the most formidable opponents abroad of the military dictatorship. Her autobiography, Little Daughter, proved the Burmese military regime’s guilt for massacres, rapes, deportations and the enlisting of child soldiers. After the last elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, little has changed for the 135 Burmese ethnic minorities and the eight million Karen.

LA RIBELLE DEL SAHARA – Aminatou Haidar is the most famous human rights activist of the Sahrawi people. In the territory that is still occupied there is a pacific Intifada, consisting of protest demonstrations and underground resistance. A resistance movement that the Moroccans fear and repress with every means. Arrested in 1987, Aminatou was swallowed up until 1991 by the “Black Prison” of El Ayoun, where she was subjected to unspeakable torture and violence. After her release, she did not give up the struggle for her people’s freedom, as her husband wanted, and she organized a movement for prisoners’ mothers and daughters. The Moroccans have retaliated against Aminatou countless times, she was repeatedly arrestes and tortured. Relentlessly she continues her commitment to her people meeting with the mothers and wives of martyrs and detainees, documenting the tales of violence and crimes perpetrated by the occupying Moroccans.

LE RAGAZZE DELLA RIVOLUZIONE – Tamara is a Kurd woman who began fighting the Turkish enemy when she was sixteen. She took up arms against the military regime before, then Erdoğan’s. Now she is fighting in Kurdistan against the militants of ISIS. Tamara has sacrificed her life ideals to the ideal of the freedom of Kurdistan. Today she commands an all-female squad which defends the “secret” capital of the PKK in Kurdistan, where the families of twelve thousand political refugees live.

SORELLA LIBERTÀ – Malalai Joia spent much of her childhood and adolescence in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, to escape from war-ravaged Afghanistan. After the Taliban had been defeated, she returned to her city of origin, Farah, in the south west of her country, where she engaged in politics.  Right from her first speeches in the chamber, young Malalay was a thorn in the side of the old Afghan petty politicians, many of whom were in collusion with the Taliban regime. In one speech, broadcast on TV, she denounced the crimes of warlords well represented in Parliament in front of the stunned exponents of Afghan patriarchal power. As consequence she was even deprived of her seat in Parliament. Since then she has lived under escort and is subject to constant death threats. As head of an association that deals with promoting women and children’s rights, Malalai Joya organizes free literacy and professional training courses. In doing so, Malalai carries on her fight for freedom in her country.

FIGLIA DELLA LIBERTÀ – Aida Quilque is the indigenous leader of the community of Cauca, a land of great natural beauty devastated by a ferocious war. Cauca has been one of the most dangerous areas in the world, a place where cocaine is produced and trafficked, a battlefield of drug dealers, police forces, state paramilitaries, narco-guerrillas of the FARC, the Colombian army. Aida Quilque, forty years old, has organized demonstrations and protest marches. For her courageous work in favour of her people’s rights Aida has had to pay an extremely high price. Her husband Edwin Legarda was assassinated 50 kilometres from Popayán, the capital of the Cauca department.



In its 14th edition Sole Luna partners with the Festival of Màlaga presenting a selection of the important Spanish and Latin American documentary films.

HAYATI by Liliana Torres and Sofi Escudé –Ossamah Al Mohsen and his 8-year-old son became one of the most iconic images of the Syrian conflict after being filmed in 2015 by a TV reporter on the Hungarian border. Like Ossamah, Moatassam, Youssef and Muhannad.  Three promising Syrian football players whose best years have been darkened by the shadow of war.


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