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Global Cinema Film Festival of Boston presents politically engaged documentaries for its eighth year

The festival runs virtually May 19-21.

A still from "Hide and Seek." The Global Cinema Film Festival of Boston runs online May 19-21.Syndicado

What connects a street kid in Naples, Italy and the Jeff Bezos-Elon Musk interplanetary face-off?

Global Cinema Film Festival of Boston.

Now in its eighth year, the festival returns virtually May 19-21, with a range of documentaries exploring timely political and cultural topics; among those are “Hide and Seek” and “Musk vs Bezos: The New Star Wars.”

Viewers can purchase a $10 all-access festival pass to watch the 12 feature and short films during the three-day window. The festival, presented by local film company Worldwide Cinema Frames studios/films LLC, is dedicated to elevating documentaries about “human rights issues” that “deserve global attention,” Raouf J. Jacob, founder and executive director of WCF, said in a recent interview.


“Our goal has really been to highlight filmmakers with the audacity to tell these stories to bring us to the front lines of issues that are ravaging populations around the world and issues that are challenging the conscience of the world,” Jacob said.

A still from "Iron Butterflies."Rise And Shine

The 2023 lineup includes films from Greece, South Africa, Norway, and other countries. Jacob highlighted the documentary “Iron Butterflies” from Ukraine and Germany and said it “speaks to the urgency and immediacy of the moment.” Directed by Roman Liubyi, the film tells the story of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that was shot down in Ukraine in 2014. Liubyi traces the Russian propagandistic messaging that arose after the tragedy and shows how the event foreshadowed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A still from “Las Abogadas: Attorneys on the Front Lines of the Migrant Crisis."Java Films

Another standout, according to Jacob, that focuses on a political crisis is “Las Abogadas: Attorneys on the Front Lines of the Migrant Crisis,” which is about four women attorneys fighting for migrants in the face of anti-immigration legislation in the United States. The documentary by Victoria Bruce “is an excellent example of our very chaotic, complex immigration system and those who have to endure its wrath,” Jacob said. Following the women over four years, including through the challenges of the pandemic, “Las Abogadas” shows the subjects’ own struggles in addition to those of their clients.


Some of the films examine social tensions, such as “Hide and Seek,” a UK and Italian documentary by Victoria Fiore. The film follows a Neapolitan 12-year-old named Entoni, whose future is threatened by an Italian policy that extricates children from families with criminal histories. Fiore expands the documentary to also capture details of the Naples neighborhood.

Others have an added economic bent. “Cryptoqueen: The OneCoin Scam,” a German film by Johan von Mirbach, is about Ruja Ignatova and her fraudulent cryptocurrency OneCoin. The story of the scam “couldn’t be more timely in terms of what’s happening with the stock market today,” Jacob said. “Musk vs Bezos: The New Star Wars,” a French film by Agnès Hubschman,” looks at the billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s race to establish themselves as the pioneers of the space-tourism industry. Jacob said it poses the question, “What’s the cost of who makes it first to space?” and changes “the way we think about space and aerodynamics and the world beyond our planet.”

A still from "Forest Brothers."Taskovski Films

One Norwegian film, “Forest Brothers,” is a more intimate story of family relationships. Director Øyvind Elvsborg follows identical twins Sven and Olaf who live on a farm, chronicling their rural existence, including the death of one of the brothers. “It’s really an observational masterpiece of the human condition, as these two characters live in silence,” Jacob said.


This year’s entire lineup will be available to watch in all 50 states; previously, a portion of the films were limited to Massachusetts or New England residents.


May 19-21. $10. Virtual.

Abigail Lee can be reached at