Victims of military torture and missing aboriginal women will be the focus of this weekend’s second Amnesty International Film Festival in Whitehorse.
The festival is designed to raise awareness about human rights issues and move people to action by providing them with tools and ideas, said regional Amnesty International co-ordinator Don Wright from Vancouver.
“These are stories about real people experiencing human rights violations, and in some cases people who are working to prevent human rights violations,” said Wright.
“So people get to see these stories up close and, in some cases, this builds awareness, and in some cases it’s affirming for people that the human rights work they’re already doing is very worthwhile and valid.”
The festival begins Friday with the docu-drama Road to Guantanamo, a film chronicling the life of three British men caught up in the Afghanistan invasion, who end up in the US Guantanamo Bay military prison.
The festival’s 12 other films are documentaries, and include 10 Questions for the Dali Lama and Finding Dawn, a film that looks at what is happening to aboriginal women across the country by focusing on three missing women, from downtown Vancouver, Northern BC and Saskatoon.
The films help people better understand what is going on in the world, said Wright.
“These are mostly independently made films, so it’s not commercial media,” he added.
“On TV you might see a one-minute piece on an issue; you don’t know what to do with it, then there’s a commercial break and you’re distracted.
“But when you watch a film in its entirety, without any interruptions, you are able to more deeply engage in it.”
Wright hopes the festival will bring people who have an interest in human rights together to talk about ideas and address issues around the world.
“And I hope there will be enough people interested to get an amnesty group going in Whitehorse,” he said.
“Because it’s all about bringing public pressure to bear on governments who are violating human rights.”
Wright plans to bring amnesty letters and human rights petitions to the festival to share with the audience.
“It’s quite a proven formula, letter writing and petitions,” said Wright.
“And when groups organize a meeting and make social contacts, they know they’re not alone in their effort to hold governments accountable.”
The film fest starts Friday, at 8 p.m. All shows take place upstairs at the Alpine Bakery. Entrance is by donation.
Saturday screenings are at 2, 4, 7 and 9 p.m. Sunday’s are at 1,3, and 5 p.m.
For more information, contact the Alpine Bakery.
Don Wright will give an introduction to Amnesty International on Sunday at noon.
“We want to make sure people don’t leave too depressed,” said Wright.
“We want to let them know there are other people out there taking action, and they too can take action and be very effective.”