Nicaragua: Festival de Cine MÁS shows new perspectives
More than 1400 people have visited the third edition of the human rights documentary film festival de Cine MÁS in Nicaragua, which has the backing of People in Need. During 13 days of the festival, 47 films were projected in 8 different regions. The local organization Movimento Puente organized screenings and discussions in schools, in cultural centres and in small communities in various parts of Nicaragua, where people often face challenges similar to those that appear in the documentaries.
Daniel Ortega rules with an iron fist in Nicaragua – he has a direct control over the army, the police and most of the media. For this reason, the films screened during the festival and the discussions that followed presented a unique opportunity for those living in smaller cities and in the countryside to get to know other than the official solutions to the every-day challenges they face.
“This is quite a unique event for Nicaragua, because the space for the non-profit sector has closed up significantly during the past few years. This has lead less room to freely express opinions,” says Ondřej Kamenický, director of One World, who personally visited the film event in Nicaragua this year to share with the local organizers his experience with organizing the human rights documentary film festival One World in the Czech Republic.
“The festival often took the character of community screenings, where a specific film was chosen by the organizers from Movimiento Puente to be screened in a given community,” he adds. For instance, in the town of Ocotal in the north of the country, the local community had a chance to watch a documentary about land grabbing and forced eviction, which is a widespread problem in Nicaragua, despite the fact that it is often downplayed by the official authorities. “The film was chosen with the local farmers in mind; these farmers had to walk for two hours through the mountains to able to see it in a tiny local cultural centre.”
The screenings took place in:
- 14 colleges and universities
- 11 cultural centres
- 22 civil society organizations
- the main region of Managua and also in the regions of Nueva Segovia, Chinandega, León, Estelí, Matagalpa, Granada and Masaya
These films can motivate young people and other actors to face the challenges they encounter on an everyday basis in more direct manner. The motto “ver para actuar” – “see to act” – makes us think about the documentaries as certain triggers for specific actions, simultaneously giving us tips on how to address the challenges. The films also bring up new topics and perspectives on various issues, showing how basic human rights can be violated and that it is right to stand up for them. In a country where most of the media is in the hands of the state or owned by entrepreneurs friendly with the government, the festival presents a very valuable benefit to the local people.
At the moment, the whole festival is being organized by only five people. Ondřej Kamenický believes that in order to at least keep its size and scope in the future – that is, nearly 50 projections in 8 regions – the organizers need to change their system to one which is more similar in style to One World in the Regions. “For us that means having a local partner in each of the let´s say 30 cities where we hold the event. This person manages everything from PR to production and beyond, while we are the ones who provide the content. At most, we visit the location where it takes place to see how everything is going. The organizing structure then often grows bigger and the responsibility is taken over by smaller local organizations.”
The documentary film festival de Cine MÁS is one of the activities that People in Need´s Centre for Human Rights and Democracy supports in Nicaragua. It also helps civic society organisations in raising awareness about their work and the political situation in the country. Another form of support is provided by subsidizing journeys of representatives from civil society to different international meetings with the aim of gaining wider support for policies that protect human rights in the Nicaragua.