On 27-29 June 2007, Veliky Novgorod hosted the ‘Youth and Human Rights’ film festival

organized by the UN Office in the Russian Federation, Administration of the Novgorod Oblast and the Russian Guild of Film Makers.

Every year, UN agencies working in the Russian Federation conduct a series of events to raise awareness in the area of human rights.

On 27 June 2007, Russian Youth Day, the UN Office in the Russian Federation launched the Youth and Human Rights film festival in Veliky Novgorod in order to attract attention of the public, especially young people, to human rights issues and promote the region’s positive image as one of the most successful in the area of target programmes aimed at support and development of young people.

The purpose of the festival was to present a number of films dedicated to various aspects of human rights advocacy and to maintain the interest of young people to these issues.

The best cinema hall of Veliky Novgorod, the Cinema Centre, became a major venue of the festival. During three days of the festival, everybody could watch new Russian and foreign films and meet young film directors.

A total of ten full-length and short feature films and documentaries were demonstrated at the festival.

At 12 on 27 June, a film ‘All the Invisible Children’ produced with the support of UNICEF was demonstrated. Eight famous film directors, including Emir Kusturica, Ridley Scott, and John Woo, filmed stories about the life of children in different countries of the world, which formed a single movie. These novels touch upon topical and sensitive issues, such as crime, family violence, AIDS, poverty, consequences of military conflicts. Each story leaves its mark making spectators think about the problems we are trying to ignore. Excellent camera and sound work add to the spectacular effect of the film.

At 5 pm, the opening ceremony of the ‘Youth and Human Rights’ film festival was held. Mr. Marco Borsotti, UN Resident Representative in the Russian Federation, who came to Veliky Novgorod on a one-day visit, opened the festival. Delegation of the UN Office in Russia, representatives of the Novgorod Oblast Administration, and young filmmakers took part in the ceremony. In the evening, a new film by Igor Apasyan ‘Graffiti’ was demonstrated. It tells a story of a young artist who prefers practicing in the Russian province and drawing portraits of countryside people to discovering the beauty of European masterpieces. Sergey Potapov, a leading actor of the Moscow Maly Theatre, who played one of the main parts, presented the film.

On 28 June, a new feature film by Ilya Rubinstein and Marat Rafikov ‘May’ was demonstrated in the framework of the ‘Serving in the Army’ programme. The film is about a 28 year old senior lieutenant Pechalin, who is going to Moscow for three days in order to ensure supply of new conscripts and to give the demob album of a young soldier to his parents who do not know that their son is dead. The film features a true hero from whom we can learn a lot - not to betray people and to help those in need. The role is brilliantly performed by actor Andrei Kuzichev.

At 5 pm, a young filmmaker Ella Arkhangelskaya presented her film ‘Megapolis’ in the framework of the ‘Cinema Protecting the Rights of Children’ programme. The matter of concern of the filmmaker is a new tendency of bringing up children by babysitters and governors when parents do not understand the happiness of being together with their children and the risk that their indifference will make their children go to the streets.

At 12 on 29 June, a romantic drama entitled ‘Stone Brambleberry. Summer Time’ by a young filmmaker Dmitry Fedorov was presented in the programme ‘Cinema for Equal Rights for All’. This film tells a love story of a disabled girl Nika, a daughter of a famous artist, and a common boy, showing a conflict of generations and an internal conflict in the generation. The filmmaker reflects on dreams and aspirations of today’s young people.

The film ‘Pavlov’s Dog’ and a meeting with film director and playwright Ekaterina Shagalova closed the three days festival in Veliky Novgorod.

During the festival an exhibition of social posters ‘For Life Without!...’ was held in the lobby of the Cinema Centre.

Short films by young filmmakers were also demonstrated at the festival. A film ‘While He Was Flying’ by a graduate of the Courses of Scriptwriters and Film Directors, Alexander Kessel, representing school of Vladimir Khotinenko, tells us about the fragile soul of a teenage girl who convinces herself that her father she has never met is a hero. Yegor Anashkin, a graduate of VGIK film director’s department (school of Vadim Abdrashitov) presented a film ‘Reported to Service!’ about the problem of bullying in the army. Alexander Lamakin from VGIK (school of Vladimir Khotinenko) presented a film ‘Express 95’ about a soldier who was discharged for three days… Pavel Dunyaev, a VGIK student (school of V.A. Mann, M. Babak), presented a film ‘Voodoo Land’ about addiction to computer games.

The festival was a non-profit and non-political action open for general public.

During the festival, representatives of regional media from Novgorod, Pskov, Leningrad and Moscow regions came to Veliky Novgorod. They took part in the seminar ‘Youth and Human Rights. Bringing up a Healthy and Successful Generation’ held on 28 June. The seminar was organized by the UN Office in the RF, in cooperation with the Russian Union of Journalists.

The aim of the seminar was to train regional journalists in the area of human rights and help local media build a dialogue with UN agencies, familiarize regional journalists with UN work in Russia, particularly in the area of human rights and youth problems.
The interactive discussion related to a number of aspects of human rights issues important for the region and for the Russian Federation as a whole. The participants touched upon the question of covering human right issues in media, the state of disabled, the problem of HIV and AIDS, discrimination of people living with HIV, employment of young people and discrimination in this area, juvenile delinquents and juvenile justice as a means of fighting teenage crime.
The seminar programme included presentations by representatives of the Union of Journalists of the RF, Administration of the Novgorod Oblast, experts of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Information Centre in Moscow, UN Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS, and the International Labour Organization.

The festival programme included a talk show ‘Young People and Human Rights: Juvenile Justice’ on the Slavia TV channel, a branch of VGTRK GTRK. The hour long programme was broadcast live at 7.10 pm on 28 June 2007. The following topics were discussed by the participants:

  1. Situation with youth, teenage, and children’s crime in the country and in the Novgorod Oblast in the all-Russian context.
  2. Major reasons for youth crime, attitude to juvenile delinquents in society and street children: criminals or children?
  3. Responsibility of society for children and young people, the role of mass media and cinema in their upbringing. Involvement of mass media and cinema in the process of social rehabilitation and adaptation of delinquents. Disapproval of violence and tolerance as prerequisites of crime prevention, especially among young people.
  4. Introduction of juvenile justice as a means of solving the problem of crime among young people and providing social security on the basis of Russian and international practice. (Regional pilot projects of the United Nations Development Programme in the area of juvenile justice). The role of juvenile justice in crime prevention and adaptation of juvenile delinquents.

Natalia Shumilova, reporter of the Salvia TV channel, and Igor Stepanov, Director General of the Guild of Russian Film Makers, hosted the show. Ombudsman for the Novgorod Oblast, Ms. G.S. Matveeva, Chairman of the Novgorod Regional Committee for Youth, Physical Culture and Sports, Mr. S.N. Fyugov, UNHCHR Human Rights Advisor, Mr. Rachid Alouach, UNDP expert in juvenile justice, Mr. Nodari Khananashvili, and Secretary of the Russian Journalists’ Union, Ms. Nadezhda Azhgikhina took part in the discussion.

Agenda of the seminar for journalists