Gael Garcia Bernal
Gael Garcia Bernal starts in Jon Stewart's directorial debut RosewaterHuman Rights Watch Film Festival

The 19th Human Rights Watch Film Festival takes place in London from 18-27 March, showcasing 16 documentary films and feature films. IBTimes UK picks out some of the highlights.

"This year's festival features many determined, brave individuals – such as Colombia's philosopher-politician-teacher, Antanas Mockus, the Afghan school founder Razia Jan, and Guatemala's first female attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz – who have made huge personal sacrifices to bring about change," said John Biaggi, director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

The theme for this year's event is celebrating individual and community efforts to effect change.

"Nearly every film in this year's festival celebrates the power of individuals and communities to challenge and interrupt the status quo, whether societal taboos or family truths," says Biaggi. "Particularly heartening is how young people from all around the world are demanding change and transparency whether its through the democratic process or, on a more personal level, by knowing and challenging difficult family truths and taboos."

The programme includes Rosewater – the directorial debut of the Daily Show's Jon Stewart.

The film follows journalist Maziar Bahari (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) as he struggles to stay sane after being jailed while covering the 2009 Iranian elections.

The festival also sees the international premiere of Joey Boink's documentary Burden of Peace, which follows Claudia Paz y Paz, Guatemala's first female attorney general, as she prosecutes Guatemala's former dictator Efraín Rios Montt for genocide.

The Shelter focuses on an emergency shelter for homeless migrants in the wealthy city of Lausanne in Romandy, Switzerland. Each night the staff must choose who can stay for the night. While the shelter can accommodate 100, only 50 people are allowed to stay inside the building.

In Uyghurs, Prisoners of the Absurd director Patricio Henriquez follows 22 members from one of China's Turkic-speaking muslims ethnic minority fleeing repressive authorities in Beijing, who view them as dangerous terrorists.

The London Human Rights Watch Film Festival's screenings are being hosted at the Barbican arts centre, and the Curzon Soho and Brixton Ritzy cinemas.