Welcome to the International Human Rights Film Festival in Albania. This is the 7th edition of the festival. Over the years, we have witnessed a remarkable development. The question is no longer whether we shall have a festival or not. Instead, we are discussing the focus and the selection of films. There were many entries into the list of suggested movies. The selection –related to the relevance of the theme and the perceived artistic value – was not always easy.
I am particularly pleased that the Festival continues to attract ever more attention of so many development partners, the private sector, and foreign missions. On behalf of the selection board, let me thank all those who supported this edition of the Festival with money or in kind.
The Human Rights debate is not over. On the contrary, the global, regional or local crises seem to fuel the thinking and the discussion about human rights. There is a growing understanding that lasting solutions are only those that protect and promote the dignity and human rights of those most at risk.
The focus of this year’s festival is the destruction and protection of the environment. Most of us can identify with these problems. As large swaths of the environment continue to be polluted, as forest fires are burning often at the hand of man, as ecologists are sounding the warning bells, as economic interests clash with the preservation of nature and diversity, we usually take a position. But does it translate into change?
Change will come if those responsible to act are held accountable. Accountability is a key notion of Human Rights. Human Rights are not found on the street. Enjoyment of Human Rights is not the result of ever more training workshops. Human Rights will materialize for the most vulnerable members of our society, if those responsible for ensuring these rights are held to account.
We all have a role to play in this. Indifference is not an option. If we don’t care, if we don’t take positions, if we don’t speak up; if we don’t ask the right questions; if we don’t hold decision makers accountable; if we don’t help to strengthen the democratic institutions that are meant to ensure transparency and accountability, then change will not happen.
Here is where the International Human Rights Film Festival makes its contribution. Films are still the most powerful medium we have. We are sure that the films not only entertain and enlighten, but also provoke emotions, open up questions, try answers. We hope that the films will stir us into action, to demand solutions for those suffering from an on-going violation of their Human Rights.
Wishing you an enjoyable and indeed thought-provoking IHRFFA 2012.
Chairperson of the Board, IHRFFA