From March 13 until March 19, the annual Socially Relevant Film Festival will take place in New York for the fourth time. The festival aims to shine the spotlight on filmmakers who tell compelling, socially relevant, human interest stories across a broad range of social issues without resorting to gratuitous violence or violent forms of filmmaking. Two Dutch documentary features and one narrative feature will screen at the festival. During the shorts program, the festival will also screen one Dutch short.
The Chocolate Case will be the opening film at the festival, screening on March 14 at Cinépolis Chelsea. The film follows the incredible journey of three Dutch journalists, who tried to persuade large corporations to end the use of child labour in the chocolate industry, but when rebuffed, decide to take matters into their own hands by creating the world’s first slave-free chocolate bar. Director Benthe Forrer graduated from the Dutch Film Academy and has since worked on a broad range of dramas, documentaries and children’s television programmes. Since 2002 she has been the creative producer/co-owner of Dahl TV. In that time she has developed, directed and produced several successful television series, including Keuringsdienst Van Waarde, which has become one of the most popular programs on Dutch television with more than 250 episodes.
In this documentary we see Campania, the area around Naples, known as the biggest illegal landfill for chemical waste in Europe. This is where the Camorra dumps industrial waste from all over Europe and from outside the continent. The purpose of the feature is to show the dramatic consequences of the worldwide illegal traffic of chemical waste You may know director Wilfried Koomen from ‘The Voice of Egypt’.
Prophecy will screen on March 18 (7:15 PM). When an ancient Buddhist scripture is discovered, a senior Buddhist monk embarks on a long journey in search of a young boy who is prophesied to be a reincarnated lama destined to propagate Buddhadharma for the benefit of all sentient beings. After Rigzen Lingpa is recognized as the one who will fulfil the prophecy, he spends his life mastering the teachings of the Buddha. When he is a young lama presiding over a monastery in eastern Bhutan, a young girl from Thimphu returns home to her ailing mother. When she takes her mother to receive blessings from the lama, they experience a powerful connection. A Q&A with the director will follow the screening.
During the shorts program, the festival will also screen the short film by Floor van der Meulen and Thomas Vroege. It shows a man who is trapped in his apartment in Aleppo, filming what is happening outside at the start of the Syrian uprising.