Every year PFF nominates the most influential and horizons opening freedom films.

This year’s nominated films are thoughtfully chosen and represent stories from 24 countries world-wide. The  spectrum of freedom is vast and shows the range of topics from censorship, blasphemy, dictatorship through girls and female situation in various countries, education, sexual harassment, to the most up-to-date events such as the rise of ISIS and assaults on freedom of expression generally, and freedom of speech particularly, in Western societies.

That is why this year’s film selection panel could not avoid but highlight the events which took place in France and Denmark. By nominating Cartoonists – Footsoldiers of Democracy, PFF bows down to all cartoonists using the international language of image to provoke discussion and check the status of freedom. By acknowledging their vital and catharsis-bringing role in every healthy society, Passion for Freedom can’t help but agree with the theme statement of the document: “Cartoon is a visual metaphor; it is not just news, it is warning”.

Passion for Freedom joins that warning and promises to remain a litmus paper of the condition of freedom in our western societies.

1. Cartoonists – Footsoldiers of DemocracyDir. Stephanie Valloatto (2014)

12 lovable lunatics, capturing the comic and tragic in all four corners of the earth: 
cartoonists who risk their lives to defend democracy, with a smile on their faces and 
a pencil as their only weapon.  

2. Shield and SpearDir. Petter Ringbom (2014)

An artist paints a caricature of South African president Jacob Zuma that provokes a 
lawsuit, death threats and a massive street protest. Around this incident, Shield and
Spear explores a constellation of stories about identity, art, race, and freedom of
expression in South Africa, twenty years into democracy.

3. High Tech Low LifeDir. Stephen Maing (2013)

HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE follows the journey of two of China’s first citizen reporters as
they travel the country chronicling underreported news and social issues stories. Armed
with laptops, cell phones, and digital cameras they develop skills as independent one-man
news stations while learning to navigate China’s evolving censorship regulations and avoiding
the risk of political persecution. The film follows 57-year-old “Tiger Temple,” who earns the
title of China’s first citizen reporter after he impulsively documents an unfolding murder and
27-year-old “Zola” who recognizes the opportunity to increase his fame and future prospects by
reporting on sensitive news throughout China.

4. Desert Dancer, Dir. Richard Raymond (2014)

Afshin Ghaffarian risks everything to start a dance company amidst his home country
 of Iran’s politically volatile climate and the nation’s ban on dancing. 

5. Playing With Fire: Women Actors Of Afghanistan, Dir. Anneta Papathanassiou (2014)

In Afghanistan, women deciding to be actors make a dangerous choice. Banned under 
Taliban rule (1994-2001), Afghan theater is experiencing a comeback with many women
 at the forefront. But with powerful forces of Islamic fundamentalism, a resurgent Taliban,
 and patriarchal traditions in play, actresses often face the harshest criticism and are even
sometimes viewed as prostitutes. Socially ostracized, and pressured to abandon their careers,
they receive beatings and death threats for them and their family. Some are forced to flee the 
country and some are even killed.  

6. Bringing the Tibet HomeDir. Tenzin Tsetan Choklay (2013)

When a Tibetan refugee dies from a terminal illness, his last wish to set foot on his native soil

remains unfulfilled. Until his son, Tenzing Rigdol, a New York-based artist, embarks on an

unthinkable journey to reunite Tibetans in exile with their land literally through an art project.

7. I’m a Girl, Dir. Rebecca Barry (2013)

There is a group of people in the world today who are more persecuted than anyone else, but they are not
political or religious activists. They are girls. Being born a girl means you are more likely to be subjected to
violence, disease, poverty and disadvantage than any other group on the planet. As each girl moves closer
to coming of age, I AM A GIRL, a feature length documentary, reveals what it means to grow up female in
the 21st century.

8. Freedom for Asia BibiDir. Maciej Grabysa, Michal Krol (2015)

Inspired by the book of French journalist Anne Isabelle Tollet, the film tells the story of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani
Christian woman, who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by
hanging.The movie was shot in May/June 2014 in Pakistan, France and Italy. It features Asia Bibi’s family,
her lawyers, journalists and friends, all actively engaged in campaigning for her release. Through this movie
we want to remind the world that an innocent woman is languishing in Pakistani prison.

9. Yazidi Women: Slaves of the CaliphateDir. Namak Khoshnaw (2015)

The BBC’s Arabic Service follows a young woman as she negotiates to free Yazidi women being held 
captive by Islamic State fighters in Northern Iraq. 

10. Stronger Than ArmsDir. Babylon’13 (2015)

Stronger than arms shows the evolution of Ukrainian realities from the spontaneous attempt to capture the
administration of the President on December 1 to the bloody battles continuing today in the ruins of
Donetsk airport.

Honourable Mention

Parvati Saves the WorldDir. Ram Devineni (2015)

An innovative re-mix film (in three acts) using dozens of Bollywood Hindu mythological films from the 1970s,
focuses on gender-based violence. ‘Parvati Saves the World’ is part of project about “Priya Shakti”- a
mortal woman and the Goddess Parvati fight against gender-based sexual violence in India and around the
world in this layered, storytelling project and augmented reality comic book, supporting the movement
against patriarchy, misogyny and indifference through love, creativity and solidarity.

Passion For Freedom Film Highlights

He Named Me Malala, Dir. Davis Guggenheim (2015)

A look at the events leading up to the Talibans‘ attack on the young Pakistani school 
girlMalala Yousafzaifor speaking out on girls’ education and the aftermath, including
her speech to the United Nations.