By Rebecca Ostriker, Globe Staff ,  Israeli-Lebanese border tensions, children in teeming Indian brothels, Peruvian government corruption, American death-row prisoners, Muslims detained indefinitely after 9/11. Sounds like a fascinating night out at the movies, right? You

Or Avijit, a pudgy boy wonder whose oppressive home life in a Calcutta brothel can’t put out the creative fire that’s made him a painting and photography prodigy. He’s in Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski’s eloquent documentary ‘‘Born Into Brothels,’’ winner of the audience award at Sundance and on the short list for an Oscar.

These are among the features in the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, which runs Thursday through Jan. 31 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre and Museum of Fine Arts. Like the most successful films in the festival, they put the emphasis right on the ‘‘human’’ in human rights. It’s hard not to connect with the people on the screen — wondering what they’ve been through, catching a look in their eyes or a leap in their stories that tells you who they might be.

Highlights of the festival include ‘‘Deadline,’’ a documentary by Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson that depicts the moral struggle of Illinois governor George Ryan, a longtime deathpenalty supporter, after evidence revealed many death-row prisoners to be innocent; ‘‘Persons of Interest,’’ Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse’s stark set of interviews with former detainees — mostly South Asian or Middle Eastern — who were rounded up and imprisoned after 9/11; and ‘‘What the Eye Doesn’t See,’’ a drama by Francisco J. Lombardi in which Peruvian politics form the backdrop for six linked stories, funny, tragic, and profound.

Also of note: ‘‘Juvies,’’ Leslie Neale’s look at the world of juvenile offenders, narrated by one who knows it well, Mark Wahlberg, and the controversial short Iraq war documentary ‘‘Soldiers Pay,’’ by David O. Russell, which accompanies a screening of his ‘‘Three Kings.’’

For further information, visit the festival’s website at www.hrw .org/iff.

BODY AND SOUL: The best flamenco is electrifying: Dancers channel fierce emotions through twisting wrists, pivoting hips, and stamping feet; singers and guitarists capture passion and pain in throaty roars and flurries of notes.

Some of the best flamenco on record will be shown today through Jan. 30 in ‘‘Images of Flamenco,’’ a free photo exhibit and film series at the Boston Public Library. Held in conjunction with World Music’s Flamenco Festival and copresented by Flamenco Buzz, the series includes Carlos Saura’s acclaimed documentary ‘‘Flamenco,’’ a stylish who’s who of talents performing incognito; Boston filmmaker Jocelyn Ajami’s ‘‘The Queen of the Gypsies: A Portrait of Carmen Amaya,’’ with little-seen footage of the revolutionary dancer; and Trina Bardusco’s ‘‘El Turista Soy Yo,’’ a short that follows soulful singer Luis Agujeta, scion of an Andalusian flamenco family, as he travels from gig to gig in his VW camper — a Gypsy wagon with modern conveniences. Ajami and Bardusco will be present for Q&As; other films will be introduced by local flamenco notables. For information on screenings, call World Music at 617-876-4275 or visit or

SHORT TAKES: In heaven, everything is fine, and at the Brattle Theatre, David Lynch’s films are queuing up for a retrospective. Ready for the lady in the radiator and another swerving cruise down ‘‘Mulholland Drive’’? The series starts Friday; for screening information, call 617-876-6837 or visit Congrats to Cambridge’s Rebecca Cutter, whose short drama ‘‘Eating’’ (www.eatingthemovie .com) was accepted at Sundance and premieres there this week, and to the students at Lynn’s Raw Art Works, a nonprofit youth arts organization, whose two music videos for the Pernice Brothers were accepted for play on MTV2 and MTVU (best scene: a squad of karate kids facing off against little girls in pink tutus at the beach).

The videos are on the MTV and Pernice Brothers websites (; www.pernice

Rebecca Ostriker can be reached at