Metropole’s Top 10 Movies at This Human World Film Festival

Presenting cinema with a conscience, This Human World International Human Rights Film Festival has raised awareness for a decade, living up to its name by covering countless topics from the well known to the underreported. From government surveillance to genocide, hip hop to football, here are 10 particularly intriguing entries from this year’s program

10. Black Code

Nicholas de Pencier (CA), 2016, in English.  Dec 9, 21:20, Top Kino

An insightful view into big data and its potential for both oppression and resistance: The same technology that gives Governments and corporations unprecedented surveillance can empowers activists and create transparency. Like any tool, it’s how you use it.

9. Weapon of Choice

Fritz Ofner, Eva Hausberger (A), 2016, German, English, Arabic, Kurdish with German Subtitles. World premiere. Nov 30, 20:00, Gartenbaukino & Dec 3, 20:15, Filmcasino

One of Austria’s most beloved exports, Glock pistols are America’s favorite handgun, lionized by gangsta rappers, popular in the military and near ubiquitous among law enforcement. But how did a small company based out of Deutsch-Wagram near Vienna become a global firearms powerhouse? Partially in English and subtitled in German, directors Fritz Ofner and Eva Hausberger look at one of globalization’s more unsettling success stories.

8. Another news story

Orban Wallace (UK), 2017, subtitled in English. Austrian premiere. Dec 5, 20:15, Top Kino

Shaping the narrative of the ongoing European refugee crisis like nothing else, the mass media has oscillated from sensationalism to tearjerker human interest stories to scare tactics – and occasionally, good journalism. A closer look at the fourth estate and the reporters framing the news.

7. Intent to destroy: Death, Denial and Depiction

Joe Berlinger (USA), 2017, in English. Austrian premiere. Dec 2, 20:15, Top Kino

The renowned documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Some Kind of Monster, Crude) takes on the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman regime during WWI, giving a comprehensive account of an issue still avoided by the Turkish government and its NATO allies.

6. The Workers Cup

Adam Sobel (UK), 2017, subtitled in English. Austrian premiere. Dec 2, 18:00, Schikaneder

Preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Quatar are in full swing, aided by an army of construction workers brought in from the third world. But with labor and living conditions dubious at best, local companies have taken a novel approach to improve worker morale: an annual football tournament in the stadiums they’re building and the promise of exposure to talent scouts, using the uplifting power of sports to pacify with false hope.

5. Dream Empire

David Borenstein (DK), 2016, subtitled in English. Austrian premiere. Dec 9, 18:00, Schikaneder

The Chinese economic miracle has created millions of newly affluent, confident consumers, but as always, there are unintended side effects: real estate developers have displaced the rural population to create megacities full of ostentatious high rises and shopping malls, but supply has outpaced demand, leaving luxurious, slowly decaying ghost towns. The Middle Kingdom’s new middle class is courted with increasingly extravagant spectacles and foreign actors as realtors desperately hope to fill their empty condos.

4. Guardians of the Earth

Filip Antoni Malinowski (A), 2017, English with German subtitles. Dec 3, 13:00, Top Kino

A behind-the-scenes look at the Paris climate accord, and the backroom politicking and horse-trading that was needed to get nearly every nation – save the U.S. – on board. With the planet’s future on the line, building consensus is key – but pleasing everyone could render the result too watered down to make a difference.

3. When God Sleeps

Till Schauder (USA/DE), 2017, subtitled in English. Austrian premiere. Dec 7, 18:30, Brunnenpassage

An outspoken critic of his native Iran’s theocratic regime, musician Shahin Najafi is currently residing at an undisclosed location in Germany – a necessity since a fatwa death sentence and $100,000 bounty was issued on him in 2012. Following his daily routine in hiding and the toll on his friends and family, director Till Schauder paints an evocative picture of resilience and artistic integrity in the face of oppression.

2. Whose Streets?

Sabaah Folayan (USA), 2017, in English. Dec 8, 18:00, Schikaneder

A raw, emotionally charged portrayal of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent riots, showing a shocked community livid, frustrated and boxed in by riot cops.

1. Stranger in Paradise

Guido Hendrikx (NL), 2016, subtitled in English. Dec 3, 20:15, Top Kino

Quiet, well paced and not afraid of controversy, director Guido Hendrikx’s debut film straddles both documentary and theater with this quiet meditation on the European refugees crisis, featuring a school teacher debunking new arrivals’ outsize expectations of their new life after making the treacherous crossing.

This article was created in partnership with This Human World Film Festival.

Binu Starnegg
Manila born, Brooklyn bred and a longtime resident of Vienna, Binu Starnegg is currently managing editor for Metropole, where he completes myriad tasks with style and aplomb. Photo: Visual Hub

RECENT Articles


Join over 5,000 Metropolitans, who already get monthly news updates and event invitations.