Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
Much of what we know about crimes against humanity is due to the on-the-ground investigative work of the Human Rights Watch Emergencies Team. This inspiring account of self-effacing heroism provides engagingly personal encounters with four E-Team operatives – and with some of the firsthand witnesses whose testimony they take such risks to document. The formidable Russian Anna Neistat and the laid-back Norwegian Ole Solvang are investigators who met when detained in Georgia in 2008 and eventually married. The laconic Peter Bouckaert is well known for his vast forensic knowledge of weaponry. And founding member Fred Abrahams is a droll New Yorker; his courtroom testimony against Slobodan Miloševic is one of the film’s most galvanising sequences. In the film’s present tense we join their forays into Libya and Syria. Without significant strategic support, they are amazingly offhand about the dangers staring them in the face. Seeing Neistat at home in Paris is perhaps just as telling. She’s fixing dinner for Ole and her teenage son, all the while on and off the phone as she orchestrates a Moscow press conference to denounce Putin’s stance on Syria.