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Montreal Human Rights Film Festival

by Archives March 25, 2008

The third edition of the Montreal Human Rights Film Festival will be an eye-opening journey out of our relative comfort zones and into the lives of the less fortunate. Running from March 28 to April 3, 60 choice films, organized in thematic blocks, will be screened. Below are some previews of the thematics along with one choice film from each.

Rape and Honour Killings – March 28, 8:30 p.m.
In the wake of a decade-long conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, tens of thousands of women have been systematically victimized. The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo explores without reserve the atrocious acts committed against women, as sexual violence is used as a weapon of war. Director Lisa F. Jackson – a survivor of the film’s subject matter – interviews the victims and the villains of these inhumane acts where innocent women’s lives are pillaged as the war wages on.

Right to be Protected Against Torture – March 29 – 6:00 p.m.
More often than not, pictures, not words, have the ability to sway public opinion. The photos that leaked out of Abu Ghraib in 2003 remain etched in our consciousness. Ghosts of Abu Ghraib takes these photos and asks what psychological and political climate led to this type of torturous behavior.
Director Rory Kennedy takes the film from the infamous prison to the public sphere, where these images have caused detrimental damage to America’s credibility factor.

People’s Rights for Self-Determination: The Kurds – March 30 – 8:30 p.m.
Dol, by Hiner Saleem, follows Azud, who is forced to flee Turkish Kurdistan on his wedding day. Along the way, he encounters other Kurds, all of whom are searching for peace and safety. Dol refers to the traditional Kurdish drum, which is ritualistically played over times of sadness and joy. The film, like the drum, accompanies the Kurds during their plight in a land, once theirs, now hostile to their culture.
Homophobia and the Right to Equality for the GLBT (Gay, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transsexuals) – March 31 – 7:00 p.m.
For many, equal treatment is a dream. Many countries will persecute people on the basis of their sexuality. Canada receives around one thousand persecuted international gay and lesbians annually. Gloriously Free looks at the stories of five men who have left old lands, where their sexuality could have left them tortured or even dead, for a new future in Canada where they are accepted with open arms.
Women’s Rights to Equal Treatment – April 1 – 5:30 p.m.
One million Canadian families have experienced some form of domestic abuse this year according to Stats Canada. Most suffer in silence. In Let’s Talk About It, children speak up, telling what they’ve felt, heard and seen. Also, three immigrant women share stories of violence and the negative impact it has had on them as well as the influence it has on their children.
Deepa Mehta (Water) directs this film as it exposes the complicated and vicious circle of domestic violence.
Discrimination on Religious and Political Grounds – April 2 – 6:00 p.m.
Online, in China, the ‘Red Big Brother” watches you. But people are willing to fight against this regime as it desperately tries to control the flow of information. China has gone modern, but not democratic, and Yahoo, La Chine documents an investigation into the fight for and against censorship, as well as the global stakes (including western) at play over China’s information superhighway.

Closing Night: Dignity and Justice for All
– April 3 – 7:30 p.m.
Closing the festival, Invincibles pays homage to the directors. Without their desire to expose otherwise unknown protagonists, the stories of human right violations would not be felt with such emotive force. Here, the five directors share their reasons for the films they chose and their messages of hope.

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