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Forbidden Voices

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Forbidden Voices

Forbidden Voices
Documentary Film
Directed by Barbara Miller
Produced by Philip Delaquis; Das Kollektiv für audiovisuelle Werke GmbH
Written by Barbara Miller
Starring Yoani Sánchez, Zeng Jinyan, Farnaz Seifi, Lucie Morillon (Reporters without Borders)
Music by Marcel Vaid
Cinematography Peter Indergand & Peter Indergand
Edited by Andreas Winterstein
Distributed by Das Kollektiv für audiovisuelle Werke GmbH (world rights), Filmcoopi Zürich (Switzerland) and Women Make Movies (USA & Canada)
Release dates
May 2012
Running time
96 min.
Country Switzerland
Language English, Spanish, Chinese, Farsi, French

Forbidden Voices is a documentary film by director Barbara Miller about the fight for Human Rights and Freedom of Speech of three female bloggers: Yoani Sánchez from Cuba, Zeng Jinyan from China and Farnaz Seifi from Iran.

The film Forbidden Voices explores the motivation and goals of the online activists’ struggle and traces the consequences and political repressions the three women are facing for their courageous activism. The documentary won the Amnesty International Award 2013 and the WACC SIGNIS Human Rights Award 2012, and was nominated for the Swiss Film Award and the Prix de Soleure in 2013.


  • The Film: Internet censorship and repression 1
  • Premier and Awards 2
  • Festivals/Screenings 3
  • Broadcast Stations (TV - aired documentary) 4
  • Reviews 5
  • Additional Press 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

The Film: Internet censorship and repression

Forbidden Voices describes how Internet access in Cuba is still prohibited for the average citizen, and Internet censorship in China and Internet access in Iran are very harsh, the blogs of the three protagonists are censored, blocked or even shut-down by their governments. Seen by their governments as dissidents the bloggers are often under surveillance and facing harsh repressions. Yoani Sánchez has been beaten and arrested, as well as publicly defamed on Cuban State TV for fighting for Human Rights in Cuba;[1][2][3][4] Zeng Jinyan lived for years with her husband Hu Jia (Activist) and her new born daughter under house arrest in Beijing for their fight for Human Rights in China;[5][6][7] and Farnaz Seifi has been arrested for her fight for Gender Equality in Iran and forced in to exile. [8][9][10]

Premier and Awards

The award-winning documentary Forbidden Voices premiered at the 2012 Visions du Réel Film Festival in Nyon, Switzerland and had its International Premiere at IDFA, The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.


  • 2012: WACC-SIGNIS Human Rights Award: Forbidden Voices (Toronto, Canada)[11]
  • 2012: Amnesty International Award (Human Rights Film Festival San Sebastian, Spain): Forbidden Voices [12]
  • 2012: Nomination Swiss Film Prize/Best Documentary: Forbidden Voices[13]
  • 2013: Nomination Prix de Soleure at the Solothurn Film Festival




  • International Film Festival Amsterdam
  • Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (Greece)
  • Human Rights Film Festival San Sebastian
  • IFFI International Film Festival Innsbruck (Austria)
  • DOK.FEST München (Germany)
  • Kasseler Dokumentarfilmfest (Germany)
  • RIFF, Rome Independent Film Festival (Italy)
  • Festival Le Voci dell’Inchiesta (Pordenone, Italy)
  • Intervita Film Festival Milan (Italy)
  • Movies That Matter Festival (The Hague and Netherlands)
  • Visions du Réel International Film Festival (Nyon, Switzerland)
  • Solothurner Filmtage (Switzerland)
  • One World Film Festival (Prague, the Czech Republic; Bucharest, Rumania; Bratislava, Slovakia)
  • PÖFF Black Nights Film Festival (Tallinn, Estonia)
  • Pärnu International Film Festival (Estonia)
  • DOCVILLE International Film Festival (Leuven, Belgium)
  • FrauenFilmtage (Wien, Austria)
  • Manaki Brothers Film Festival (Macedonia)
  • Vox Feminae Film Festival (Zagreb, Croatia)
  • FEMCINE Festival (Santiago, Chile)
  • Open Your Eyes Film Festival (Sierra Leone)
  • Encounters Documentary Festival (South Africa)
  • TRI Continental (Human Rights) Film Festival (South Africa)
  • FIDBA Documentary Festival (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Human Screen Festival (Tunis, Tunisia)
  • Mexico’s Human Rights Film Festival
  • DocsDF Festival (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Kaohsiung International Film Festival (Taiwan)
  • Film Festival for Women’s Right (Seoul Korea)
  • Amnesty International Film Festival (Hong Kong)
  • Journalist by Occupation Film Festival (Moscow, Russia)
  • Zonta Film Festival (Waterloo, Canada)
  • Human Rights Film Week (Kathmandu, Nepal)

Other Screenings:

Broadcast Stations (TV - aired documentary)


  • "Forbidden Voices is a compelling and deeply disturbing documentary that makes those of us who freely sit at our laptops and type realize how much we take for granted, and how powerful these women’s voices are in their repressive societies." (Review by Leah Kolb, Bitch Flicks)[16]
  • "This is a humbling documentary for a reporter to watch. Following three bloggers whose beat is their government’s oppression, we see the extreme lengths they go to tell the world their stories: They bear house arrest, get beaten up by police, live for years in exile…. Yet despite the misery these women’s governments put them through, Forbidden Voices is hopeful: Information can no longer be managed by the state. That’s largely because of technology, but equally due to the spirit of women like Sanchez, Farnaz, and Zeng." (Review Forbidden Voices, by Daniel Person, Seattle Weekly)[17]
  • "The film opens with blood-curdling screams of Yoani Sánchez. The Cuban blogger fought in February 2010 against an ambush-style arrest by the secret police, and the courageous woman was able to achieve in that critical moment the impossible, namely to operate unnoticed the recording button on her mobile phone. The ugly face of the ubiquitous apparatus of repression in the realm of the Castro brothers who still enjoy in certain circles a residual prestige ("After all, Cuba has a free health and education system for all"), could hardly be shown more impressively then as with this dramatic opening sequence." (Review Forbidden Voices, by Geri Krebs, NZZ)[18]


  • "Review Kulturplatz, SRF, by Lisa Röösli". 
  • "Review Tagesschau, SRF, by Karina Rierola". 
  • "Review WOZ, by Martina Fritsch". 
  • "Review Tages Woche, by Tara Hill". 
  • "Review Huffington Post, by Yoani Sánchez". 
  • "Review Diario Vasco, by EFE/Javier Etxezarreta". 
  • "Review Noticias de Gipuzkoa, by Juan G. Andrés". 
  • "Review, by Andra Matzal, Rumania". 

Additional Press

  • CNN: Forbidden Voices: Female bloggers fight for freedom of speech[19]
  • Bitch Flicks: Documentary Explores the Forbidden Voices of Three Female Bloggers [20]
  • Seattle Weekly News: Review of Forbidden Voices[21]
  • Deutsche Welle (TV): Video summary on Forbidden Voices[22]
  • Reporters Without Borders: Forbidden Voices - Film Tribute To Three Exceptional Women Bloggers[23]
  • Women Make Movies: Women Make Movies article on Forbidden Voices[24]
  • SRF (Swiss TV) article: Forbidden Voices - Forbidden Votes[25]


  1. ^ "Cuba unblocks access to controversial blog". Reuters. February 8, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Kaos en la red (Chaos on the Web): Interview with State Security Agent Miguel" (in Spanish). Kaos en la Red. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  3. ^ "Washington Post: Cuban Courage". Washington Post. Retrieved March 20, 2009. 
  4. ^ Granma: Prólogo — Fidel, Bolivia y algo más... at the Wayback Machine (Spanish) Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  5. ^ "Activist Couple Accoused of Endangering State Security", Human Rights Watch, May 21, 2007
  6. ^ "Zeng Jinyan - The TIME 100," TIME Magazine, May 14, 2007
  7. ^ "Chinese rights activist Zeng Jinyan disappears" International Herald Tribune, August 9, 2008
  8. ^ "Female-Bloggers-Fight-For-Freedom-of-Speech, Nov 18,2013
  9. ^ Key Note von Farnaz Seifi: The local blogosphere and the conflict in Iran , Apr. 15, 2010
  10. ^ Farnaz seifi, Exiled Blogger," 2012
  11. ^ "Forbidden Voices: Human Rights Award". 
  12. ^ "Amnesty International Award". 
  13. ^ "Swiss Film Prize/Best Documentary". 
  14. ^ "Frontline Club, London screening". 
  15. ^ "Austria broadcast". 
  16. ^ "Review Bitch Flicks". 
  17. ^ "Review Seattle Weekly". 
  18. ^ "Review Geri Krebs from NZZ". 
  19. ^ "Female bloggers fight for freedom of speech (includes video)". 
  20. ^ of Three Female Bloggers"Forbidden Voices"Documentary Explores the . 
  21. ^ "Seattle Weekly review". 
  22. ^ "Video review of Forbidden Voices". 
  23. ^ "Reporters Without Borders article". 
  24. ^ "Forbidden Voices: How to Start a Revolution with a Computer". 
  25. ^ "Forbidden Voices - Forbidden Votes". 

External links

  • "Film Website: Forbidden Voices". 
  • "Forbidden Voices on Internet Movie Database (IMDb)". 
  • "Barbara Miller at Internet Movie Database (IMDb)". 
  • "Philip Delaquis at Internet Movie Database (IMDb)". 
  • "Peter Indergand Cinematographer Homepage". 
  • "Lucie Morillon promoted Head to Reporters Without Borders". 
  • "Lucie Morillon, Reporters Without Borders". 
  • "Lucie Morillon on Twitter". 
  • "Yoani Sánchez Blog: Generation Y (English)". 
  • "Yoani Sánchez Online Journal (English)". 
  • "Yoani Sánchez on Twitter (English)". 
  • "Zeng Jinyan’s Blog (in Chinese)". 
  • "Zeng Jinyan on Twitter (in Chinese)". 
  • "Farnaz Seifi on Twitter (English)". 
  • "Forbidden Voices at Women Make Movies (American distributer)". 
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