New York Screenings Encourage Policy Dialogue. (Passing By)

Article excerpt

For nearly two decades, the International Film and Television Exchange has organized annual screening conferences in New York to encourage dialogue between policy makers and the media on a range of themes relevant to United Nations work. The week-long conferences feature expert seminars and screenings of documentaries and fiction films. Panels of senior officials and established experts in the field present different perspectives and tie the screenings to questions of policy and action. Claus Mueller, head of the nonprofit organization, says the conferences serve to "generate a more realistic assessment of the issues involved and to facilitate better policies by communicating their complexity and identifying possible action strategies".

"Crimes of War... and Consequences" was the theme of the most recent conference and focused on the prosecution of war crimes and the internationalization of justice. Its programme, organized in collaboration with the Goethe Institute/German Cultural Center and Hunter College of the City University of New York, featured a number of case studies, such as the role of the United Nations in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, and screened films, such as "Srebenica: A Cry from the Grave" and "Forsaken Cries--The Story of Rwanda". It also revisited historical controversies surrounding the Japanese invasion of China and Korea, showing a film on the 1937 "Rape of Nanking", in which 300,000 civilians were slaughtered in six weeks, and interviews with Korean "comfort women". Another screening focused on the Middle East conflict, documenting targeted assassinations by the Israeli services and the massacre of Palestinian civilians by Lebanese militia in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Others documented massive human rights viola tions during civil wars in Argentina, Burma and Mozambique.

The Conference opened with a panel on the multilateral legal framework, held at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations and moderated by Ruth Wedgewood, a law professor at Yale University and Senior Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. The conflicting perspectives of the panellists on the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) illustrated the complexity of the subject. UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Hans Corell presented arguments in favour of the ICC and was supported by most panellists. The General Counsel of the United States Mission to the UN, Nicholas Rostow, presented the legal principles behind his country's opposition to the Court.

One highlight of the conference was "No Man's Land", directed by Bosnian director Danis Tanovic, which won the special jury prize for best screenplay at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar for best foreign-language film in 2002. …