Toronto International Film Festival TIFF Bell Lightbox 350 King Street West Toronto, Ontario
The annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival presents 10 feature films that inspire hope, confront oppression, seek truth and demonstrate people’s will to defend their own rights and those of others. From Peru to Iran, Kenya to Belgium, these documentary and fiction films reach beyond the headlines to reveal the core issues underlying many of the human rights abuses occurring worldwide.
These powerful depictions of the struggles necessary to preserve one’s basic freedom speak eloquently to the universality of human rights in an ever more interdependent world, inspiring people to raise their voices in defence of those who cannot.
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Programme The Green Wave Dir: Ali Samadi Ahadi Tuesday, February 22 at 8pm The prevalence and power of social media has increasingly become a tool for political movements worldwide, not least in the case of Iran’s Green Revolution. Utilizing frontline You Tube footage, blog postings, tweets, and dramatic reenactments of events via animated testimonials, this clever documentary collage speaks powerfully to “mankind’s yearnings for freedom and dignity.” Guest in attendance: Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law, McGill University When We Leave Dir: Feo AladagWednesday, February 23 at 8pm Based on a highly publicized honour killing in Berlin in 2005, When We Leave stars Sibel Kekilli as Umay, a young Turkish Muslim woman who courageously decides to leave her abusive husband in Istanbul and join her family in Germany with her young son. Her reunion with her parents and siblings soon reveals that cultural ties are strong and her family’s love is not unconditional. Guest in attendance: Shelley Saywell, Writer and documentary filmmaker. You Don’t Like the Truth Dir: Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez Thursday, February 24 at 8pm This Genie nominated documentary is a provocative and troubling document of war and justice post-9/11 about the story of Omar Khadr, the then-fifteen-year-old Canadian citizen captured in Afghanistan in 2003, and remanded to custody at the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Guests in attendance: Directors Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez, writer, Michelle Shephard, and Andrea Prasow, Senior Counsel, Terrorism and Counterterrorism for HRW.Enemies of the People Dir: Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin Friday, February 25 at 8pm Cambodian investigative journalist Thet Sambath embarks on a decade-long journey into his own tragic past and that of his country, as he seeks out and confronts those responsible for his family’s death under the Khmer Rouge regime. Guest in attendance: Kim Echlin, Novelist. Familia Dir: Mikael Wiström and Alberto Herskovits Saturday, February 26 at 8 pmDaniel and Naty, a middle-aged couple living in Peru, are unable to pay for their eight-year-old son’s education, so Naty takes a job as a hotel maid in Spain. Shuttling back and forth between continents and interpolating black-and-white photographs from the family album, this documentary captures both Naty’s loneliness in a foreign land and the pain of a family torn apart while trying to provide a better life for their children. Guest in attendance: Director, Alberto Herskovits. The First Grader Dir: Justin Chadwick Sunday, February 27 at 8pm Runner-up for the People’s Choice Award at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, this remarkable true story speaks to the universal human urge to improve our lives by improving ourselves. When the government of Kenya announces it will offer free primary education for the first time, an eighty-four-year-old man, Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge (Oliver Litondo), shows up on the doorstep of a rural school, ready for class. Guest in attendance: Dickson Eyoh, Associate Professor of Political Science & African Studies, University of Toronto. 12 Angry Lebanese Dir: Zeina Daccache Monday, February 28 at 8pm In Lebanon’s largest and most notorious prison, forty-five inmates participating in a production of Reginald Rose’s courtroom drama 12 Angry Men. The play is an opportunity for them to examine their own lives and decisions while preparing for their performance before a curious public. Guest in attendance: Nahlah Ayed, CBC journalist. Life, Above All Dir: Oliver Schmitz Wednesday, March 2 at 8pm Chanda, a young girl in a small, AIDS-ravaged South African township, struggles to maintain the façade of a normal life amidst utter instability: her stepfather is an alcoholic, her newborn sister has recently died, and her mother has now become afflicted with the AIDS virus. Winner of the François Chalais prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Guest in attendance: Alexis MacDonald, Director of External Relations, Stephen Lewis Foundation. The Oath Dir: Laura Poitras Thursday, March 3 at 8 pm A complex portrait of the interlinked lives of two men: Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, who was captured and detained at Guantanamo Bay; and his brother-in-law Abu Jandal, a former bin Laden bodyguard and Al Qaida recruiter, who was released by the US government after naming names in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Guest in attendance: Samer Muscati, Researcher, Middle East & North Africa Division, HRW. Illégal Dir: Olivier Masset-Depasse Friday, March 4 at 8 pm Living in constant fear as an illegal immigrant in Belgium, thirty-nine-year-old Byelorussian mother Tania (Anna Coesens)
(A press release from TIFF)