September 30

The Response

Director: Adam Rodgers

(30 mins, USA, 2008)

Conceived in the vein of 12 Angry Men, this gripping courtroom drama is based on actual transcripts from the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals. Three military judges in this short film decide the fate of a Middle Eastern detainee, played by Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show with John Stewart). The judges—and the audience—must decide whether the detainee is an enemy combatant, guilty of material support to al Qaeda and the deaths of US soldiers, or an innocent victim, as he claims.

October 1

DIGITAL WITNESS SYMPOSIUM

Human rights media are rapidly transforming within a contemporary media environment increasingly defined by digital convergence. This symposium brings together internationally recognized experts in the field of human rights media to discuss the ongoing innovations and futures implications of this increasing turn to new media by human rights activism.

With Sam Gregory, Program Director at WITNESS; Mallika Dutt, founder and Executive Director of the international human rights organization Breakthrough; and Fred Ritchin, Professor of Photography and Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

Generously supported by an award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a Central New York Humanities Corridor.

PROMISES AND LIES

Bound By Promises: Contemporary Slavery in Rural Brazil

Producers: WITNESS, Comissao Pastoral da Terra, and Center for Justice and International Law

(17 mins, Brazil/USA, 2006)

Every year more than 25,000 workers are enslaved by landowners in the Amazon regions of rural Brazil. This video tells the story of men who set out in search of work and are taken to isolated ranches, only to find that they have been lured into debt bondage. Forced to do backbreaking work and to live in overcrowded shacks with no running water, they are treated like animals.

Good Fortune

Directors: Landon Van Soest and Jeremy Levine

(73 mins, USA/Kenya, 2009)

Good Fortune explores how massive, international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. This revelatory film presents a unique opportunity to experience foreign aid through the lens of the people it is intended to help. Shot over three years across Kenya’s diverse landscapes—from the raw, natural beauty of the countryside to the expanse of mud shacks in Africa’s largest slum—the film interweaves intimate portraits of two Kenyans targeted by massive international development projects. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the co-director, Jeremy Levine. 

QUEERING COLONIAL POWER

October 2

Rex vs. Singh

Directors: Ali Kazimi, John Greyson and Richard Fung

(30 mins, Canada, 2008)

Between 1909 and 1929, an inordinate number of men tried for sodomy in Vancouver were Sikhs. In 1915, two Sikh mill-workers, Dalip Singh and Naina Singh, were entrapped by undercover police in Vancouver and accused of sodomy. Rex vs. Singh is an experimental video that restages scenes from this trial in order to explore the interplay between homophobia and racism in this little known chapter of Canadian history.

An Island Calling

Director: Annie Goldson

(76 mins, New Zealand, 2008)

In 2001, John Scott and Greg Scrivener, a prominent gay couple in Fiji, were killed in their home. From an old European-Fiji family with a long colonial history, John was the Director-General of the Fiji Red Cross who worked as a go-between in the hostage crisis during the political coup of 2000. This compelling murder mystery traces a morally complex tale of a postcolonial country deeply divided along tribal, class and ethnic lines, told through the eyes of two very different families.

HAUNTED LIVES

Slaves

Directors: Hanna Heilborn and David Aronowitsch

(16 mins, Sweden, 2008)

This award-winning animated documentary visualizes traumatic testimonies of child kidnapping and slavery in Africa. The film is based on a 2003 interview with nine-year old Abouk and fifteen-year old Machiek, who, like thousands of children, were taken by the government-sponsored militia in Sudan, separated from their families, and forced to work as slaves.

October Country

Directors: Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher

(80 mins, USA, 2009)

Every family has its ghosts. The Mosher family of Herkimer, NY, has more than most. Shot over one year, October Country creates a stunning cinematic portrait of an American family struggling for stability while haunted by the ghosts of war, teen pregnancy, foster care and child abuse. A collaboration between filmmaker Michael Palmieri and photographer and family member Donal Mosher, this vibrant and penetrating documentary examines the forces that unsettle the working poor and the violence that lurks beneath the surface of American life.

PROFITS OF POVERTY

Well Done, Abba!

Director: Shyam Benegal

(132 mins, India, 2009)

Legendary Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal crafts a wily satire on the politics of development in rural India. After months away from his job as a Mumbai chauffeur for a senior executive, Armaan must explain his absence to his boss or lose his job. In his hilarious tale of misadventure, mayhem and matchmaking, Armaan returns to his village in order to wring a profit out of living below the poverty line and find a suitable husband for his only daughter.


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