‘Blind Faith’ launches Human Rights fest

Event runs through June 25

A gala benefit featuring Ernest Dickerson’s 1950s-set “Blind Faith” will kick off the ninth annual Human Rights Watch Intl. Film Festival, which runs through June 25 at Lincoln Center.

Thirty-three pics from 19 countries will debut during the fest, which is co-sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Among the films unspooling at this year’s fest are “Off Season,” the Berlin Intl. Film Festival prize winner exploring the reconstruction and reunification of a Bosnian city; “Visas and Virtue,” the Oscar-winning short about a Japanese ambassador who saved 2,000 Jews from the Nazis; and “Melvin Van Peebles’ Classified X,” which chronicles Hollywood’s portrayal of African- Americans.

Yuri Khashchevatsky’s political satire “An Ordinary President” will be awarded the 1998 Nestor Almendros prize for courage and commitment in filmmaking.

Team effort

This year, for the first time, the Human Rights Watch fest will team with three other Gotham events — the African Film Festival, the New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the Margaret Mead Festival — to present programming.

“Our festival and those of our partners are held at virtually the same time each year. Our new collaboration will allow us all to reach a greater audience and to emphasize the unity of concerns we share,” said Human Rights Watch fest director Bruni Burres.

In partnership with the New York Lesbian and Gay fest, Human Rights Watch will present Carlos Siguion-Reyna’s “The Man in Her Life,” a story about a love triangle that was originally banned in the Philippines.

Together with the African film fest, Human Rights Watch will screen Hillie Molenaar and Joop Van Wijk’s “Crossroads,” about life in a boom town created by the influx of 500,000 Rwandan refugees.

Human Rights Watch will join forces with the Margaret Mead fest to unspool “Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant,” a compilation of excerpts from a 1968-69 WNET-TV series about blacks in America.

The Human Rights Watch is a coalition aimed at protecting international human rights. The festival showcases filmmakers’ personal viewpoints on discrimination and threats against political freedom.