KEENE — The legacy of lawyer Raphael Lemkin, who became a human rights advocate and introduced the word “genocide” to describe mass slaughter as a crime against humanity in 1944, is featured in filmmaker and director Edet Belzberg’s celebrated film, “Watchers of the Sky.”
The film, which earned an Academy Award nomination and Sundance Award, will be shown on Saturday, April 12, at the Colonial Theatre in Keene during the second annual Monadnock International Film Festival (MONIFF).
After the screening, Belzberg and producer Amelia Green-Dove will be presented with the Jonathan Daniels Award, named in honor of the murdered Episcopal seminarian whose advocacy in the 1960s helped galvanize the civil rights movement.
The award is presented annually to a socially conscious filmmaker who “echoes Daniels’ courage, purpose and spirit by using film in a powerful, transformative way,” MONIFF said in revealing its choice for award recipient.
Using present-day and archival footage combined with animation, the film blends Lemkin’s struggle with the first-hand experiences of four 21st-century activists who honor Lemkin’s legacy: Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Samantha Power, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (who also narrates Lemkin’s story in the film); Rwandan Emmanuel Uwurukundo, who oversees refugee camps on the border of Chad and Western Sudan for the United Nations, and Ben Ferencz, a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials who knew Lemkin.
They carry on Lemkin’s legacy through their firsthand experiences with 20th- and 21st-century mass killings of minority groups in Armenia, World War II, Bosnia, Rwanda, and the Darfur region of Sudan, MONIFF officials said.
This spring’s MONIFF will include feature narrative films, three feature documentaries, a short film program and several panels. The faculty and staff of the Keene State College Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies will collaborate with MONIFF on special programming for students and community members during the festival.
Tickets are $12 per screening, $75 for a film pass and $125 for a VIP pass. Visit www.moniff.org or call 352-2033 for more information.
Though plans are still shaping up, events are slated to take place on the Keene State College campus, at the Peterborough Players in Peterborough and in a Jaffrey beneath an entertainment tent, festival officials said.