Call for film submission
Deadline: 4 July 2016
Minority Rights Group International invites independent documentary filmmakers to tender for a documentary film of festival/broadcast quality on the role of civilian activists in monitoring and documenting human rights violations against vulnerable civilians in Iraq.
To a brief decided in collaboration with MRG, you will produce, direct, shoot and edit a documentary of festival and mainstream broadcast quality, of about 20-25 minutes in length, with a 3-min trailer/summary version.
We are looking for a filmmaker to bring their unique combination of journalistic news-gathering and cinematic eye to bring a new perspective to a sensitive issue, and highlight the challenging and often heroic work of civilian activists on the ground.
MRG is looking to produce a hard-hitting documentary that says something new about the issue, where your own creative input will be highly important.
Civilians in Iraq are subject to mass violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. With over 3 million people displaced from their homes, and the security situation preventing access to large parts of the country, there is an urgent need for better information on what is happening to civilians on the ground in order to provide redress. The best people to provide this information are members of civil society.
There are activists or civil society organisations in Iraq that are documenting human rights abuses and producing extremely valuable and otherwise inaccessible information on what is occurring on the ground. Due to a combination of factors such as networks, trust, proximity and accessibility, members of civil society may able to provide a deeper knowledge of human rights violations in Iraq than external agencies or actors seeking information from outside the country. In the case of international or domestic litigation, civil society evidence on incidents and abuses is invaluable.
However, those documenting and reporting abuses from within Iraq do face challenges. Besides the security risks due to political instability and conflict in Iraq, activists may also face persecution, political interference, denied access to vulnerable communities, logistical challenges, poor communications, lack of funds and a limited capacity to effectively document violations.
For decades, civilians in Iraq have suffered extensive abuses of human rights and breaches of international law. Minorities, internally displaced people (IDPs) and women are particularly vulnerable.
Minority communities in Iraq include Christians (Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriacs and Armenians), Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabak, Sabean-Mandaeans, Faili Kurds, Kaka’i and Bahá’í, black Iraqis and Roma. At the local level, either Shi’a or Sunni Arabs can be in the minority.
The number of internally displaced people in Iraq is now estimated at over 3.4 million. IDPs are residing in all 18 governorates, with the majority having been displaced to Anbar, Baghdad and the Kurdish Region of Iraq since January 2014. Given the scale and severity of the IDP situation, Iraq is suffering a humanitarian emergency.
Women are especially vulnerable in Iraq. Women are affected by gender-based violence in conflict, including sexual violence, trafficking and targeted killings, as well as family-based violence such as domestic abuse, honour crimes, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
In order to assist in the preparatory research, we suggest the following sources:
Brief outline and purpose of the film:
Ideally, the filmmaker will choose members of civil society active in one or more of the above issue areas, and preferably a central character or group or activists, who will help the audience to understand the complex human rights environment in Iraq and the challenges of working within it. However, we would like to give the film-maker considerable artistic freedom in identifying the story-line and dramatic arc of the film. MRG needs the film to achieve certain objectives:
- The film should provide a positive perspective on the production of human rights information by civil society. It should highlight the challenges of documenting abuses, and the heroic lengths that members of civil society go to overcome it.
- The film should provide the audience with a basic understanding of the current situation of the vulnerable communities listed above.
- The film should support a message of the possibilities / realities of civilian-led monitoring. We leave it up to the film-maker to find the right balance between the general story and specific situations, as well as which particular issue they would wish to focus on. MRG has a strong commitment to expose how women often face discrimination and would appreciate the film’s central character, or one of the central characters, therefore being a woman. The filmmakers will work closely with civil society organisations with whom MRG is working in Iraq, and much of the footage will be shot on the ground in Iraq. The language of the film should be English, and where this is not achievable for specific parts of the film, English subtitles should be provided. Owing to the nature of the subject and context within which the filmmakers will be working, including security concerns for those appearing in the film and filmmakers, MRG will apply the following criteria when short listing submissions:
- At least one member of the team must have fluent Arabic and English
- Experience of film making in difficult environments (conflict, transition, etc.), preferably in Iraq
- Experience of working with grass roots NGOs
- Sensitivity to security concerns of both film crew and those appearing in the film
- In depth knowledge of Iraq
- Experience working with vulnerable communities
Approximately EUR 15,000 is available for the film. This does not include translation, printing or distribution, which will be discussed separately with the chosen film-maker.
Please send the following to Mays Al-Juboori, Civilian Rights Officer, Minority Rights Group International, 54 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT or by email to email@example.com:
An outline of your approach to the story, which should be around 500 – 800 words and include: any background you think might inform the story (three key points of what makes this newsworthy), issues you think should be covered or might arise for vulnerable communities in the region, and how the story might be filmed and framed in terms of narrative, style and approach.
Your Filmmaker’s CV
A proposed budget for the project to include pre-production, production and post-production, which includes all costs (travel, per diem etc). Also, a schedule covering days needed to film for this length as well as an editing schedule.
Three copies of a showreel on DVD and/or links to your film work online.
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS 4 JULY 2016
The film is being produced as part of MRG’s Programme Ceasefire Project: Protecting the Human Rights of Vulnerable Civilians, which is funded by the European Union (This content is the sole responsibility of Minority Rights Group International and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union).