The strength of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival is also its weakness. This year’s 23rd edition boasts 16 doc and fiction flicks from 12 countries – yet most fall firmly in the category of solid ITVS fare (in fact, only three are narrative features). Like with the agribusiness detailed in Micha X. Peled’s “Bitter Seeds,” about the epidemic of farmer suicides in India, variety is often an illusion – especially when U.S. or U.S. co-productions are in the majority. This is another way of saying that, yes, the chances of seeing a stinker at HRWFF are slim, but there’s also not much in the way of stay-with-you cinematic experience on display, magical discoveries worth dragging yourself up to the Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater for, rather than just wait until the likely PBS broadcast and see it for free. Fortunately, after viewing more than half of this year’s selections I did manage to find the exceptions to what might be called the “Ken Burns Rule.
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