By Wioletta McGilvray
In Riga, Latvia, there is a small cinema inside the popular local venue, Kaņepes Kultūras centrs. Here you can see regular screenings of human rights related films. Last month there was the chance to see a collection of “If Not Us Then Who” film shorts.
Our group of Amnesty International volunteers in Latvia, in collaboration with Kaņepes Kultūras centrs Cinema, decided to screen a few of the “If Not Us Then Who” under last month’s topic – health, environment and resources. We hoped to create a discussion about Indigenous land rights and ideas of ownership, and how this can affect people and the environment. The event would then be followed by a letter writing session. Different cases from around the world were chosen from Amnesty international’s urgent actions list, cases relating to individuals who are trying to protect the environment or indigenous rights but are being persecuted for doing so.
Though the cinema is tiny there was quite a big crowd of people who came to see the shorts and learn about the situation in Indonesia, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines. The topics we covered were broad, from the effects of climate change and natural disasters, to lack of consultation with indigenous populations during conservation work. Through this wide range of places and topics we hoped to introduce everyone to something that would catch their interest and encourage people to take an active interest in human rights, whether through Amnesty International Latvia, “If Not Us Then Who”, or in some other way.
The screening was followed by a discussion of the films. Members of the audience commented on how they found the films fascinating as they were about topics and places which we rarely think or talk about. It was great to be able to highlight and bring them to the attention of a new audience.
We are glad to have had the opportunity to screen and share some of the great films from “If Not Us Then Who”.