Every year the organization committee of the Resistance International Film Festival (RIFF) questions and explores different aspects of social responsibility and adds new categories to the competition program. This year its definition is expanded to include dealing with the invisible threats such as viruses. A new section called  “Health Defenders” is added to the festival’s program to document and show health workers fighting the COVID-19 and thus sacrificing their lives on the path of protecting society’s health.

This festival for now is the only cinema event dedicating the biggest part of its program to this pandemic, and the organizers hope that it would help to gather different experiences in one place, and also to promote a further documentation of the recent events as it would become crucial evidence for the future generations.

Organizers of the festival announced that filmmakers from the United States, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Britain, France, India, Turkey, Iraq, Germany, Pakistan, Portugal, Russia, Malaysia have already submitted more than 300 films to compete in this section of the festival and thus to express their gratitude to the health defenders from all around the world.

10 films from India submitted to this section are as follows:

“Times of COVID” directed by Partho Kar, “The Saviour” by Arjun Mukherjee, “Light in Times of Darkness” by Sourish Mitra, “Don’t Panic, Man” by R. Sahil, “Freedom from Virus” by Arin Paul, “Mask” by Dr. Sweta Kumar Dash, “My Mom” by Rakesh Moirangthem, “Baang” by Junaid Imam Shaikh, “Sapno Ka shehar”, “Walk and Talk with Corona-virus” by Er. Abdul Rashid Bhat.

Arin Paul asked to describe his film told that “Will power, determination and unity had led to our Independence. This year on the Independence Day lets once again determine to unitedly defeat our enemy. Wear mask, wash hands and maintain social distancing. Let’s break the chain… Not the bond. That’s the main theme of our film, “Freedom from Virus (Azaadi Virus Se).” By staying together, we achieved our Independence and by staying together, we can defeat the virus. We made the film to make our citizens understand that and also to make them aware of the safety regulations and their usefulness in this fighting process.”

Another Indian filmmaker Rakesh Moirangthem talking to the festival’s reporter said that his short film “My Mom” narrates a story about a nurse, who is at the frontline treating COVID-19 patients and fighting courageously amidst this nationwide lockdown.

“It is our duty to love, support, and salute these “Corona Warriors,” he added.

Rakesh Moirangthem said that during this pandemic many doctors and nurses are facing a lot of problems not only because of the increased workload and personal risks, but also because of the discrimination against them experienced from the local communities that prefer to keep them away until the pandemic and lockdown is ended. “I feel uncomfortable about this situation and I think it is time to give some awareness to the public about these aspects of the pandemic also, and thus to encourage all the front lines.”

“I want to dedicate this short film to all the healthcare workers and especially to the nurses who are working day and night all around the globe,” he added.

RIFF’s carefully curated program as well has earned this festival recognition from viewers and industry professionals alike. American filmmakers such as Michael Moore, Oliver Stone as well as many other artists from more than 100 different countries have participated with their documentaries and films in this festival. Also, many renowned international guests and exceptional filmmakers have come directly to present their films and interact with viewers, including, David Barsamian, Scott Frank, Rafael Lara, Darnell Stephen Summers, Yvonne Anne Ridley, Jasmin Durakovic, Robert Hofferer, Diana Kamal-al Din, Rashed Radwan, Yousef Wehbi, Ahmed Boulane, Basil al-Khatib, Saddam Wahidi Melika, Zairi Alper Akdeniz, Thomas Hayes, Daz Chandler and many others.

Resistance International Film Festival is divided in two parts that will be held on separate dates. The first part that includes “Health Defenders” section and is currently underway in Tehran has started on September 21st and will continue until September 27th, and the second part dedicated for the “Main Competition” is scheduled for November 21st-27th.

This year the event will go online due to a spike in the coronavirus cases in the country.

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