Filmmakers Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny bring shared and complementary film experience to this project. Both of them are known for making films that bring viewers close to the individuals and organizations that fight human rights abuses, whether telling the story of children in Calcutta’s red light district in the Academy Award-winning film BORN INTO BROTHELS or showcasing a historic blow against capital punishment in DEADLINE.
It is because of their collective experience and credibility with human rights issues that the filmmakers have gained unprecedented access to the work of the E-Team. This is the first time the international human rights group, Human Rights Watch, has ever granted independent access to a film crew. To be perfectly clear, E-TEAM is a completely independent film and the filmmakers are committed to portraying the complexity, difficulty and importance of human rights work, not in lionizing a well-known organization.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
"We knew a little bit about the work of Human Rights Watch before we started making the film, but once we began spending time with the E-TEAM, we were blown away by two things: how intriguing their work is and what great characters they were, both as individuals and as a group. Then we started thinking this could really be a movie. We weren’t interested in making an earnest film that heaped praise upon a worthy organization – plenty of those films exist and it’s not our job to make another one. We wanted to draw viewers in with these people who fascinated us."
"I want to tell a great story with great characters. It's all about connecting with people. Whether it's children in the brothels of India, or human rights investigators on the front lines of history. For me, the key is forming a connection. Once we can relate to our characters, anything is possible. But what really made this film work for me was the intimacy we managed to achieve by filming our characters at home with their families. That's where the real connection occurs. Their work in the field is incredible, but their lives at home are what we in the end can truly relate to."
"The fact that one of the E-TEAM members is a woman – Anna Neistat – definitely made the idea of the film more interesting. I suppose we all know that women are brave and smart, but nonetheless, seeing a woman like Anna putting her passion and efforts into investigating human rights in the field is an unusual perspective. Her role deepens the film and speaks to wider audiences."
"Even though I knew about Human Rights Watch as an organization and even though Katy and I both had previous films play at their annual film festival, I didn’t really understand exactly what they do as a whole. Once I started doing my research and began traveling the world with the E-Team, I realized that Human Rights Watch is everywhere. All of the sudden I thought, ‘Wait a minute! Who are these people that do this incredible work? I want to know more and I think the world deserves to know more too.’ Being out in the field with Anya, Ole, Fred and Peter was both an honor and quite frankly, very exciting. To be on the frontlines of history with the people who are helping shape that history is a rare privilege."
"I really like documentaries that take you 'behind the scenes' in a particular line of work. And due to the fact that we had phenomenal access to the E-TEAM members, we were able to really capture that sense of seeing what happens outside of what normally reaches the public at large."
Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny: