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A letter to our audience: Thank you for 35 incredible years of film, conversation and making change together.

Image of a large audience in a theater clapping hands

To our beloved audience members all around the world. It is with great sadness that we share today that Human Rights Watch has announced it will be closing the Human Rights Watch Film Festival after 35 incredible years due to a financial restructure at the organization. Read the official statement about the festival’s closure here

Since 1988, The Human Rights Watch Film Festival has showcased nearly 1,000 independent films, in 30 cities across the globe. Ours was the longest running human rights film festival in the world. We want to thank our dearly loved cinema partners, staff, our collaborators and partner organizations, volunteers, the thousands of filmmakers we have worked with - and most importantly: you, our committed, supportive audience members. Over the years we have welcomed hundreds of thousands of audience members through our cinema (or virtual) doors. Our events were designed to inspire you to get involved and make a difference, but nothing at all could happen - without seeing you enter the theaters, take your seats, applaud for the filmmakers, sign our petitions and more. We festival staff would delight to see each new face, and to get a chance to reconnect to the devoted community members who have never missed an opening night. Each one of you have made a lasting impact in this work, changing the conversation around arts and human rights around the world. It is because of your support, participation and enthusiasm that the festival has been able to create such a powerful platform for films and critical conversations for over three decades. 

Thank you, wholeheartedly, for being part of our community and for the power of your support. Thank you for your thoughtful questions and for being active participants in creating change together. 

One of the best parts of this work has always been to see members of our audience file out of the theater after a film, to hear your reflections on the film, and to see you line up to speak with the human rights activists, filmmakers and volunteers - as you asked them what can YOU do to make a difference. The world needs you now more than ever, and we encourage you to stay curious, continue to be informed and to continue in your support of films that uncover the truth about our world. 

We invite you to continue the conversation and share your favorite festival memories with us on social media, by tagging us or replying to our posts on Twitter or Instagram.

With all of our appreciation and gratitude to you, 

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival team 

John Biaggi, Jen Nedbalsky, Leah Sapin, Frances Underhill, Ariel Ottey