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2013 Human Rights Film Series

 

The Last Mountain

In the valleys of Appalachia, a battle is being fought over a mountain. It is a battle with severe consequences that affect every American, regardless of their social status, economic background or where they live. It is a battle that has taken many lives and continues to do so the longer it is waged. It is a battle over protecting our health and environment from the destructive power of Big Coal. The mining and burning of coal is at the epicenter of America's struggle to balance its energy needs with environmental concerns. Nowhere is that concern greater than in Coal River Valley, West Virginia, where a small but passionate group of ordinary citizens are trying to stop Big Coal corporations, like Massey Energy, from continuing the devastating practice of Mountain Top Removal. David, himself, never faced a Goliath like Big Coal.The citizens argue that the practice of dynamiting the mountain's top off to mine the coal within pollutes the air and water, is responsible for the deaths of their neighbors and spreads pollution to other states. Yet, regardless of evidence supporting these claims, Big Coal corporations repeat the process daily in the name of profit. Massive profit allows Big Coal to wield incredible financial influence over lobbyists and government officials in both parties, rewrite environmental protection laws, avoid lawsuits and eliminate more than 40,000 mining jobs, all while claiming to be a miner's best friend. As our energy needs increase, so does Big Coal's control over our future. This fact and a belief that America was founded on the democratic principle that no individual or corporation owns the air and water and we all share the responsibility of protecting it, drives these patriotic citizens and their supporters from outside of Appalachia, like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., to keep fighting.A passionate and personal tale that honors the extraordinary power of ordinary Americans who fight for what they believe in, The Last Mountain shines a light on America's energy needs and how those needs are being supplied. It is a fight for our future that affects us all. (Source: Uncommon Productions and DADA Films.)  Official Film Web Site

Genocide: Worse Than War

Premiering on PBS, Worse Than War documents Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's travels, teachings, and interviews in nine countries around the world, bringing viewers on an unprecedented journey of insight and analysis. With his first book, the #1 international bestseller Hitler's Willing Executioners (Vintage, 1997) Goldhagen - then a professor of political science at Harvard University- forced the world to re-think some of its most deeply-held beliefs about the Holocaust. Hitler's Willing Executioners inspired an unprecedented worldwide discussion and debate about the role ordinary Germans played in the annihilation of Europe's Jews. A decade later - and more than half a century after the end of World War II - Goldhagen is convinced that the overall phenomenon of genocide is as poorly understood as the Holocaust had once been. How and why do genocides start? Why do the perpetrators kill? Why has intervention rarely occurred in a timely manner? These and other thought-provoking questions are explored in a new documentary film, Worse Than War.(Source: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/worse-than-war/the-film/)  Official Film Web Site

 

Saving Face

Every year in Pakistan, many people - the majority of them women - are known to be victimized by brutal acid attacks, while numerous other cases go unreported. With little or no access to reconstructive surgery, survivors are physically and emotionally scarred. Many reported assailants, often a husband or someone else known by the victim, receive minimal if any punishment from the state. Recently honored with a Best Documentary Short Oscar®, Saving Face chronicles the lives of acid-attack survivors Zakia and Rukhsana as they attempt to bring their assailants to justice and move on with their lives. The women are supported by NGOs, sympathetic policymakers, and skilled doctors, such as the Acid Survivors Foundation- Pakistan, plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who returns to his home country to assist them, attorney Ms. Sarkar Abbass who fights Zakia's case, and female politician Marvi Memon who advocates for new legislation. Directed by Oscar® winning and Emmy®-nominated American filmmaker Daniel Junge and Oscar® and Emmy®-winning Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Saving Face is an intimate look inside Pakistani society, illuminating each woman's personal journey while showing how reformers are tackling this horrific problem. (Source: www.savingfacefilm.com) Official Film Web Site

Killing Us Softly 4

In this new, highly anticipated update of her pioneering Killing Us Softly series, the first in more than a decade, Jean Kilbourne takes a fresh look at how advertising traffics in distorted and destructive ideals of femininity. The film marshals a range of new print and television advertisements to lay bare a stunning pattern of damaging gender stereotypes--images and messages that too often reinforce unrealistic, and unhealthy, perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. By bringing Kilbourne's groundbreaking analysis up to date, Killing Us Softly 4 stands to challenge a new generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, and gender violence. (Source: Media Education Foundation, http://www.mediaed.org) Official Film Web Site

 

Invisible War

From Oscar®- and Emmy®-nominated filmmaker Kirby comes The Invisible War, a groundbreaking investigative documentary about one of America's most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem-today, a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of Defense estimates there were a staggering 19,000 violent sex crimes in the military in 2010. The Invisible War exposes the epidemic, breaking open one of the most under-reported stories of our generation, to the nation and the world. (Source: www.invisiblewarmovie.com) Casualties of war rage beyond the battlefield. As ranks of women in the American military swell, so do incidents of rape. An estimated 30 percent of servicewomen and at least 1 percent of servicemen are sexually assaulted during their enlistment. And not by the enemy, but at the hands of fellow soldiers. With stark clarity and escalating revelations, The Invisible War exposes a rape epidemic in the armed forces, investigating the institutions that perpetuate it as well as its profound personal and social consequences. We meet characters who embraced their service with pride and professionalism, only to have their idealism crushed. Their chilling stories of violent sexual assault become even more rattling as they seek justice in a Kafkaesque military legal system. As a courageous few defy victimhood, they face their most challenging fight yet: penetrating a closed circuit where officers collude, cases are routinely swept under the rug, and few perpetrators are tried or convicted. (Source: http://filmguide.sundance.org/film/120070/the_invisible_war) Official Film Web Site

 

Nuclear Aftershocks

After a devastating earthquake and tsunami crippled Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, there's an emerging consensus in Japan and Germany that the hazards of nuclear energy overshadow its benefits. In the United States and other countries, the question remains unresolved. In Nuclear Aftershocks...FRONTLINE correspondent Miles O'Brien travels to three continents to explore the revived debate about the safety of nuclear power, the options for alternative energy sources, and questions about whether a disaster like the one at Fukushima could happen in the United States. The Fukushima accident marked a nuclear tipping point. Only six of Japan's 54 reactors are still operating, and all are expected to be closed by May 2012. For its part, Germany decided to close all of its 17 reactors by 2022, with hopes of filling the power gap with renewable energy sources like wind and solar. But some climatologists are concerned that Japan and Germany's carbon-free nuclear electricity will be replaced not with renewables but with polluting fossil fuels like coal. As NASA's James Hansen says, "It's really extremely bad timing. ... We have not yet found a base-load electric power without carbon emissions, other than nuclear power." FRONTLINE examines the implications of the Fukushima event for U.S. nuclear safety and asks if any of our 104 reactors could suffer a Fukushima-type accident. According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman Gregory Jaczko, "The likelihood of a Fukushima accident happening here is very low, ... but we know it's not impossible." But David Lochbaum, the chief nuclear expert for the Union of Concerned Scientists, argues that the NRC's record is far from perfect. "The biggest concern I've had with the NRC over the years I've been monitoring them is lack of consistency. They're a little bit slow at solving known safety problems." For example, Lochbaum says, 47 reactors in the U.S. still do not meet federal fire protection standards - standards that were set 35 years ago, after a fire at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama. (Source: PBS press release, "Nuclear Aftershocks," www.pbs.org/pressroom) Official Film Web Site

 

Poetry of Resilience

Poetry of Resilience is a documentary by Academy Award-nominated director Katja Esson about six international poets who individually survived Hiroshima, the Holocaust, China's Cultural Revolution, the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Iranian Revolution. These six artists present us with a close-up perspective of the "wide shot" of political violence. Each story is powerful, but the film's strength comes from its collective voice: different political conflicts, cultures, genders, ages, races - one shared human narrative. Majid Naficy, who fought the Shah in Iran and then witnessed the murder of his family by forces of Ayatollah Khomeini, states: "Artistic creativity is the only thing left to you as a survivor." "I wish I could say the human spirit is resilient," says Chinese poet Li-Young Lee, "some days I don't think so." Lillian Boraks-Nemetz knows why she survived the Holocaust: "I am a witness and I am telling the story." Japanese poet, Yasuhiko Shigemoto, sums up his experience in one haiku: "Still being alive / seems to be a sin for me. / Hiroshima Day. The film takes us to memorial sites in Poland, Rwanda, and Hiroshima; we also travel to the clogged streets of New York City's Chinatown and the boardwalks of Venice Beach. We witness the contrast between the voyages back to the poets' home countries with their experiences of immigration and exile. As we follow these survivors into their past and present lives we learn that they write for different reasons: to remember, to take revenge, to curse, to forgive, to honor, to commemorate, to transcend. For all, poetry was the gift that restored. Official Film Web Site