NGOs, and especially watchdog organizations, play an important role in the development of civil society. The wordplay of ‘watchdog’ and ‘watch docs’ (i.e. documentaries) provided the ideal addition to our festival name and, since 2006, the Human Rights in Film festival is known as WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film.
In 2001, the Polish NGO, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR, www.hfhrpol.waw.pl) founded the Human Rights in Film Festival. Beginning 1982, the Helsinki Committee operated in the Polish underground, to establish HFHR seven years later. Currently, the Helsinki Foundation is one of the most experienced European human rights NGOs. HFHR implements education, intervention and monitoring programs. A significant portion of its activity concerns human rights in states of the former Soviet Union.
Since its inception, Warsaw’s Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle (www.csw.art.pl), has been a festival co-organizer. CCA is the first and largest interdisciplinary culture and art center in Poland and Eastern Europe, with National Institute of Culture status. Since its founding in 1988, CCA has held over 1000 exhibitions and more than 6000 other cultural and educational events.
Established in 2005 to support documentary film, WATCH DOCS’ third organizer, the Social Institute of Film, endeavors to support socially engaged documentary film from Central and Eastern Europe.