The Dream of Shahrazad with Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Friday, June 19, 2015
9:00 pm - 11:00 pm
WALTER READE THEATER, FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza - 165 West 65th Street (bet. Amsterdam & Broadway, Upper Level)
Admission: $14.00, $11 for Seniors & Students

3rd i NY Co-Presentation at the HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FILM FESTIVAL

THE DREAM OF SHAHRAZAD by Francois Verster

Documentary | South Africa/Egypt/Jordan/France/The Netherlands | 2014 | 107 min |English, Arabic and Turkish with English subtitles

Screening followed by discussion with filmmaker Francois Verster

Filmmaker Francois Verster explores how music and storytelling can serve as an outlet for citizens to process political upheaval. Using the metaphor of Shahrazad–the princess in the classic tale of The 1001 (Arabian) Nights who saves lives by telling stories to the murderous Sultan Shahriyar–and filmed before, during, and after the so-called Arab Spring, the film weaves together a web of music, politics, and storytelling to explore the ways in which creativity and politics coincide in response to oppression.

A series of unforgettable characters all draw their inspiration from The 1001 (Arabian) Nights, including a conductor who uses Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade suite as a tool for Istanbul political education, a young female Lebanese internet activist, a visual artist who finds his own “dream of Shahrazad”, and a Cairo theater troupe who turn the testimonies of mothers of the Egyptian revolution martyrs into storytelling performances. This richly kaleidoscopic film is at once observational documentary, concert film, political meditation, and visual translation of an ever-popular symphonic and literary classic.

Trailer and Tickets: Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Dream of Shahrazad Website


Filmmakers’s Bio
Director, Producer, Camera, Editor

Francois Verster is a multiple-award winning independent documentary filmmaker based in Cape Town, South Africa. His films generally follow “creative” observational approaches to social issues and have all won local and international awards and been broadcast around the world. He has taught documentary directing and film studies and his films have been used in various seminars on the intersection between creative documentary and social activism.


About Human Rights Watch (HRW) & the HRW Film Festival

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. We work tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep rooted change and fight to bring greater justice and security to people around the world. Through our Human Rights Watch Film Festival we bear witness to human rights violations and create a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. The film festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people.

The HRW Film Festival currently screens in over 20 cities around the world throughout the year. The festival’s programming committee operates out of the New York office to screen more than 500 films each year. Through a rigorous vetting process, that includes review by Human Rights Watch’s programmatic staff, the festival chooses approximately 40 films each year to participate in our various festivals. It is then up to the particular city and its programming committee to choose films from this final selection for their specific festival.

In selecting films for the festival, Human Rights Watch concentrates equally on artistic merit and human rights content. The festival encourages filmmakers around the world to address human rights subject matter in their work and presents films from both new and established international filmmakers. Though the festival rules out films that contain unacceptable inaccuracies of fact, we do not bar any films on the basis of a particular point of view.