NIHRFF Overview


NIHRFF is a thematic film festival. It is the first German festival to be dedicated to the subject of human rights. It is a leading forum for outstanding feature films, documentaries and animated productions, which have human rights as their main focus.
NIHRFF represents a window to the world, offering a high-quality international programme from Nuremberg, within its commitment to its status as a city of peace and human rights.

NIHRFF takes place every two years in the month of October, after the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award has been awarded. In 2011, Hollman Morris will receive the award. He has been reporting with admirable courage from the armed conflict in his native Colombia and has been documenting human rights abuses on all sides.


The respect for the rights and dignity of the individual forms the basis for international freedom, justice and peace in the world. In recognition of this vital relationship NIHRFF strives to promote mutual understanding, tolerance and friendship between different nationalities and religious and ethnic groups. This is where the festival’s international nature is found and where it crosses all religious, political and cultural boundaries to side against any attempts to make people “second-class citizens.”

The aim of NIHRFF is to underpin and strengthen the principles of human dignity, solidarity and mutual understanding and communication. NIHRFF hopes to promote understanding between different cultures and peoples and underline the individual’s responsibility during a time of globalisation. It hopes to demonstrate that human rights abuses have political, economic and cultural roots. The festival carries out imperative and continual educational work in this direction. The aim is to use the medium of film to bring the subject of human rights to broad strata of society.

Therefore, NIHRFF wants to shed a precise light on current events and developments in the world’s cultures. Knowledge promotes interest and the ability to abstract. It is only when one “has a picture” in one's mind that one can begin to see beyond one's most immediate environment and to understand the “unknown” – i.e. different people, their cultures, and their political and social systems. It is hoped that exposure to this information will stimulate communication between people.


NIHRFF provides insights into the fundamental human rights and values on which our societies are based. The festival supports human rights education and the notion that each individual bears a local and global responsibility. Film is an extraordinarily powerful and universal medium with the capacity to illustrate the subject of human rights and other important global questions that are often perceived in too abstract a manner.

Hence NIHRFF has placed its focus on films, which contribute to a re-evaluation of ones own attitudes and to the recognition of human responsibility. They reflect the past, inform about the present, make problems visible, throw up questions and bear witness to social and political developments. The films combine high artistic quality with a commitment to people without an ideological superstructure.

illustrates the values on which democracy lies

  • informs about the human rights situation in Germany and abroad
  • questions the political, economic and cultural causes of human rights abuses
  • carries out educational work which is linked to human rights
  • helps to educate the general public and thus lead to more openness in public
  • works in the international arena and shares its ideas with comparable organisations abroad
  • makes human rights popular and contributes to the building of a tolerant society which sees cultural, ethnic and other differences as an enrichment


The main programme, the “International Forum” looks at current trends and developments in the world’s cultures and film aesthetics. The selected films show what sorts of conditions people are living under at the beginning of the 21st century. About ten films which demonstrate exceptional formal and aesthetic strategies in their reflection upon these issues are selected by a committee made up of festival team members to compete for the International Human Rights Film Award. An International Jury awards the price.

The varied filmic approaches to human rights issues opens up the festival to films of all kinds - documentaries form the largest genre, but there are also feature and animation films in the programmes. Alongside new productions from all over the world and previews of films soon to be released, the festival also presents films which are of (film) historic significance.


The medium film has an exemplary function. Young people can be enticed into entering a debate about human rights, human dignity and alien cultures through the stories that the selected films tell.

NIHRFF wants to invite openness and raise sensitivity towards minorities and challenge the subliminal glorification of violence which is alarmingly present in our mass media. The festival can provide the young generation with values and perspectives of the world, which will serve in the future to encourage tolerance and cooperation. So, in addition to the normal festival on-goings, NIHRFF also offers the following events, aimed especially at young people:

School screenings are targeted at young people to provide orientation and insights. The festival mornings are reserved for our so-called Open Eyes screenings preceded by an introduction to the topic and followed by discussions for older schoolchildren with directors and HR experts. An average of 1500 pupils participate in this programme each festival.


The International Human Rights Film Festival wants to promote films which combine high formal quality with a humanistic philosophy and social commitment, regardless of their scale of production or commercial success. The International Human Rights Film Award of 2500 Euros, along with its symbolic value, should contribute to the further making of such films. We want to encourage film directors to keep telling and to keep the public from shutting their eyes. The prize is awarded by an international jury to films which particularly reflect the festival’s philosophy.

For the festival, film should not only be a commercial product produced merely to entertain and gain profit but an artistic creation which also contributes to the communication process.


NIHRFF allows space to be portrayed in a three-dimensional manner. NIHRFF expresses a recorded scene from the camera’s position and Perspectiva Ars portrays art which sees the whole picture. Our perspectives are the human rights and fundamental values which make up our open, democratic and responsible societies. Our perspective unites content and technique.


The Künstlerhaus, which houses the Filmhaus cinema and the K4 cultural centre, lies in the city centre and is home to all festival events. With its three screens, a guest and press service, a video library with over 2000 related titles, two exhibition spaces and seminar rooms, it offers an ideal space and infrastructure for such an event. The local multiplex cinema CineCittà presents previews of popular films concerned with human rights issues.


Nuremberg’s name is inextricably linked to the role which the city played during the Nazi tyranny. Nuremberg was the venue of the annual Nazi Party Rallies and it was here that the inhuman “Nuremberg Laws” were promulgated, depriving the Jewish population of their civil rights, thus paving the way for the Holocaust. Nuremberg, however, was also the site of the International Military Tribunal and stands as a symbol for the punishment of Nazi crimes by the victorious Allied powers.

As a result of its history in the twentieth century, Nuremberg has a special responsibility, requiring it not only to deal with historical facts but to send a signal out for the future. The Street of Human Rights, the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award and various international Human Rights conferences attest to the city’s determination to campaign for peace, reconciliation and the protection of human rights. On 8 December 2000 the city of Nuremberg received the UNESCO Award for Human Rights Education. Nuremberg is also a member of the “European Conference Cities for Human Rights” network and an active participant of the “The European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City”.

NIHRFF can make an important contribution to this undertaking, helping the city of Nuremberg on its further path to becoming a “city of peace and human rights” which is one reason why UNESCO emphasised the festival when awarding the city the UNESCO Award for Human Rights Education.


The strong ties of Perspektive to the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award is especially enriching and positive in terms of promoting debate. On September 25, 2011, the city of Nuremberg will award the 9th Nuremberg International Human Rights Award ceremony to Hollman Morris who has been reporting with admirable courage from the armed conflict in his native Colombia and has been documenting human rights abuses on all sides. The presence of international visitors to the city who are already actively involved with the issue of human rights is very significant to the festival. Through such a symbiosis Nuremberg becomes a significant centre for debate where important ideas on social change can be developed.


NIHRFF is an independent festival. It has been conceived and organised by the non-profit association “Internationale Filmtage der Menschenrechte e.V.

The film festival's partners are:

- Stadt Nürnberg:

  • Bürgermeisteramt/Menschenrechtsbüro
  • Kulturreferat
  • KunstKulturQuartier
  • Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände
  • Jugendzentrum für Kulturelle und Politische Bildung
  • Interkulturbüro
  • Kulturzentrum K4 im Künstlerhaus
  • Filmhaus Nürnberg

- amnesty international
- medico international
- Kirchenamt der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland
- Federal Foreign Office
- Europäisches Netzwerk gegen Rassismus (ENAR)
- Informations- und Dokumentationszentrum für Antirassismusarbeit e.V. (IDA)
- Medienwerkstatt Franken
- Handicap International
- Terre des Femmes

Over the past few years, over 2000 films from around the world have been entered in the festival. NIHRFF has screened 352 of them, 51 of which competed for the International Human Rights Film Award. More than 25000 people have attended the screenings; there have been 170 panel discussions and Q & As and 230 national and international guests. Photo exhibitions of the work of renowned international photographers have complemented the screenings, e.g. the 2001 exhibition of the work of Stanley Greene, who has won the World Press Photo Award several times. NIHRFF is a member of the European Coordination of Film Festivals (ECFF), which is the world’s biggest network of its kind, to which over 200 cultural film festivals in Europe belong. NIHRFF is also a founding member of the Human Rights Film Network (HRFN), which comprises 25 human rights film festivals from 21 countries.


The International Human Rights Film Festival belongs to the few events in the film world which are categorically political and socially committed. It deserves encouragement and all possible support. It is lucky to have the possibility, through its choice of programme, of making clear the fact that contents, which is critical of its era, can be combined with convincing and modern cinematic form, and that it is indeed those films, which combine a contemporary subject with and adequate form and exploit the medium’s aesthetic possibilities, that are the best, most important and finest that exist in our cinematic landscape.
(Ulrich Gregor, Film historian and director of the International Forum of New Cinema, Berlin International Film Festival (1971 to 2001))

I believe that for such a festival it is the shared experience which is so important. It is something very different when millions of people sitting at home watch something on television alone. Here you can watch something with other people and afterwards talk about the experience - in this situation you have to address the issue pro-actively. Just watching TV causes constipation – lots goes in, but nothing comes out!
(Volker Schlöndorff, film director (The Tin Drum))

Whilst the society of fun pivots around itself, the question of human rights in other parts of the world is a question which decides about life or death, about participation in or exclusion from society. Even here the question of human rights does not belong to bygone times - one needs only think of the plight of refugees in our country, of remand pending deportation or deportation to an uncertain, perhaps even fatal, future. Thus, the organisers are all the more deserving of praise for having had the courage to get the International Human Rights Film Festival off the ground and for showing films which are not, and never will be, blockbusters.
The 1999 Jury (Wolfhard Gallhoff, Ullabritt Horn, Gabriele Müller, Bertoldt Kremmler und Klaus Wildenhahn)

I am particularly honoured and pleased to take over the patronage of a film festival that is dedicated to the subject of human rights. It is necessary to observe the world around us from different perspectives, from different angles. The medium of film helps us to procure an idea how people live in other countries and in what conditions. It is our task to open our eyes, to rise against a desensitised society and to change something. I am especially interested in the children of this world.
(Katja Riemann
, actress)

We are thrilled and honored to learn that our film has won the award at the International Human Rights Film Festival. This award means much to us, especially now when the world is reeling from the events of September 11. There is a hunger now for a different vision of justice--one that leads to peace rather than violence; although, the voices that are calling for such a vision are so often drowned out by the call to war. We appreciate the recognition that your award gives our film in these difficult times.
(Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffmann, Directors of the 2001 award-winning film Long Night´s Journey into Day)


Every director bears responsibility and secretly harbours the hope to change the world a bit. For the world is not in a status quo but is constantly subject to change. Every film can change things a tiny little bit, for better or for worse. Films can empower, or disempower, prejudices, propagate conservative, or modern, role models. This is an example of the long-term effects of film. Why else would dictators place so much value on film as a means of propaganda?
(Lukas Moodysson, film director)