Today: July 20, 2024

Human Rights Watch

The closing night for the 15th Human Rights Watch was met with a near full house at Brixton’s Ritzy cinema.

The closing night for the 15th Human Rights Watch was met with a near full house at Brixton’s Ritzy cinema. An evening of free alcohol, a compelling final feature and a riveting Q&A to boot summarises a hugely successful festival that bounced from the screens of the Ritzy, the Soho Curzon and the Institute of Contemporary Arts with a headstrong objective to raise awareness of humanitarian crises across the globe.

Bracing the floor for subjects such as the Iranian 2009 election, The Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the many crimes of the Colombian paramilitaries, HRW concludes with a sweet adaptation laced with tragedy, following the true story of 84 year old Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge, a former Kenyan rebel who wants to take advantage of the “free education for all” policy introduced by a reformed government.

First Grader dwells on the frightening past of the British invasion on Kenya which saw Kimani’s family slaughtered and juxtaposes it with a hopeful look to an educated future of a nation. Funded by a recently deceased UK Film Council, the feature documents the rise of the Mau Mau rebellion and the atrocities that Kikiyus such as Kimani (a reserved but powerful Oliver Litondo) endured in internment camps at the hands of white forces. It also stars British actress Naomi Harris, beautifully personifying new Kenya as ballsy and kind headteacher Mrs Obinchu who withstands personal sacrifice to see that she honours the foundations of a gradually free country.

Directed by Justin Chadwick and followed by a Q&A with barrister Dan Leader, researcher Ben Rawlance and Chadwick himself, First Grader ends on a high, putting forth a message of change and niggling at possibility, both underlying themes of the past week.

Human Rights Watch has worked in Kenya since 1992 and, with the 2012 elections approaching hopes to achieve accountability for the nation’s abuse through the International Criminal Court. The organisation also combats the issues addressed in all of the screenings across the week, with the aim of the knowledge provided in the documentaries, animations and dramarisations shown to empower audiences to support the actions proposed to make change.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website:

Previous Story

Tomorrow, When The War Began

Next Story

Fast Five

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.


Following early screenings, Longlegs mania became something bigger than anyone could have predicted. After an eerie and ambiguous marketing campaign made up largely of short, cryptic teasers, hype was already pretty high

Inside No 9 Complete Collection Unboxing

Earlier this year, one of the finest television creations in the history of the medium came to a poignant conclusion after 9 impeccable seasons. Over 55 self-contained episodes, Inside No 9 made

A Bittersweet Life Unboxing

Taking a brief detour from horror, Second Sight Films have given their much-loved Limited Edition treatment to South Korean neo-noir thriller A Bittersweet Life (2005). Filmmaker Kim Jee-woon may jump wildly around

The Conversation Unboxing

Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece of paranoia The Conversation celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and StudioCanal are marking the occasion with this utterly beautiful Limited Edition 4K UHD Blu-ray release that even

Halo Season Two Unboxing

While the Halo TV series continues to be controversial with longtime ‘fans’ of the franchise for petty reasons, this year’s explosive second season certainly marked an improvement over the first. With better
Go toTop