The question of human rights lies beyond formal rules and official political structures. It is also a question of mentality and awareness; it depends on how seriously civil society takes the humanity of every person. To capture these implications, it is not sufficient to invoke 'hard' institutional frameworks, such as the constitutional order, administration and economy. We need to pay attention to 'soft' human factors: trust, loyalties, interpersonal bonds, cultural codes affecting human conduct. This is why cinema offers an interesting point of view to address the question. Focusing on The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005) a film by Romanian director Cristi Puiu, this paper interprets it and its literary sources through the philosophical category of 'neighbour'. The aim is to look for what this concept can tell us, in both a moral and legal sense, about human beings and their dignity, beyond the limits of rights discourse.
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