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Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival

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This touring program continues Friday through Thursday, May 11 through 17, at Facets Cinematheque. Tickets are $9, $5 for members, and all screenings are by video projection. For more information call 773-281-4114 or see facets.org.

RAmu In Shonali Bose's tightly constructed debut feature (2005) a young Indian-American woman from Los Angeles returns to Delhi for the first time since childhood to visit her relatives. A university student she meets perceives her as a spoiled American but changes his mind after she reveals that she was adopted and that her birth parents died during a cholera epidemic. Certain facts about her past don't add up, however, and as she becomes consumed with learning the truth, the slaughter of thousands of Sikhs during the riots sparked by Indira Ghandi's assassination take on greater personal significance. In English and subtitled Bengali, Hindi, and Punjabi. 106 min. (JK) a Tue 5/15, 7 PM.

RThe Camden 28 Anthony Giacchino's dramatic 2006 documentary revisits the 1971 burglary of a draft office in Camden, New Jersey, by Catholic pacifists protesting the Vietnam war. Ratted out by one of their own, they were caught red-handed, and 28 plotters were brought up on felony charges; incredibly, some of them rushed to comfort their betrayer after his son suffered a fatal accident. The ensuing trial revealed that the feds had used their mole to further the plot along, which ultimately persuaded a jury to acquit all of the defendants on the basis of "overrreaching government participation." The video lapses into self-congratulation near the end, as many of the principals reunite for a 2002 retrospective, but for the most part this is a powerful tale of conscience, betrayal, and forgiveness. 82 min. (JJ) a Fri 5/11, 9 PM, and Mon 5/14, 8:45 PM.

RConversations on a Sunday Afternoon South African documentarian Khalo Matabane makes a vibrant narrative feature debut (2005), combining drama with nonfiction elements in a story about a Johannesburg hipster poet (charismatic Tony Kgoroge) who finds his muse in a displaced Somalian woman (Fatima Hersi). After she disappears from the park where they met he sets out to find her, chatting up real-life immigrants and exiles along the way. Kgoroge shows a flair for improvisation, skillfully drawing out people from African hot spots as well as South Korea and the Balkans. Matabane's handheld camera, enigmatic framing, and jump cuts add even greater edge to this video of throbbing street life. In English and various languages with subtitles. 78 min. (AG) a Sun 5/13, 1 PM.

RDreaming Lhasa Set in Dharamsala in northern India, this 2005 drama considers the challenges facing the Tibetan diaspora, in the person of a Tibetan-American documentary filmmaker, the local musician assisting her, and a refugee monk whose search for a missing freedom fighter leads him to exile communities in Jaipur and Delhi. The story incorporates harrowing documentary testimony from former Tibetan political prisoners, but essentially this is a hopeful look at a resilient people keeping their traditions alive as they move into the digital age. The magnificent Himalayan panoramas are enhanced by a score combining folk music, Tibetan rock, and tunes by Western artists like the Cowboy Junkies. Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam directed. In English and subtitled Tibetan. 90 min. (AG) a Sat 5/12, 9 PM.

The Forest for the Trees Fascinating but frustrating, this documentary by Bernadine Mellis circles the May 1990 car bombing of Earth First! activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, who were subsequently accused by the FBI and the Oakland police of having constructed the bomb themselves in a plot against the timber industry. The 55-minute video uneasily conglomerates three related stories: a fawning biography of Bari, whose aggressive defense of the giant redwoods was cut short by her 1997 death from breast cancer; a warm personal portrait of Mellis's father, the dour but idealistic civil rights attorney Dennis Cunningham; and a blurry chronicle of the civil lawsuit he argued against four FBI agents and three Oakland cops for violating Bari's First Amendment rights. His victory resulted in a $4.4 million settlement for Bari's estate, but Mellis's reconstruction of this circuitous path to justice through transcripts and courtroom sketches fails to provide the narrative spine her video so badly needs. (JJ) Also on the program: Milena Kaneva's Bulgarian-Italian video Total Denial (2006, 65 min.), about Burmese villagers suing two U.S. petroleum corporations for human rights abuses. a Mon 5/14, 6:30 PM.

Rosita No one's rights are as vulnerable as those of a child, a point this 2005 TV documentary by Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater painfully illustrates. Rosa, a nine-year-old Nicaraguan whose parents toiled as coffee pickers in Costa Rica, was raped and impregnated on her way to school. Her condition became a cause celebre in the Costa Rican press, which vilified the parents, while the Nicaraguan government, pressured by the Catholic Church, moved to sequester the ailing girl so she could carry the fetus to term. This harrowing tale argues the importance of separating church and state but sidesteps such issues as the fate of Rosa's accused attacker and the background of her human rights champions. In English and subtitled Spanish. 54 min. (AG) Also on the program: Lucian Muntean and Natasa Stankovic's Serbian video Punam (2005, 28 min.), about a nine-year-old Nepalese orphan who cares for her younger siblings. a Sat 5/12, 1 PM.

RSwitch Off Add Manel Mayol's 2005 Spanish-Chilean film to the growing list of documentaries that highlight the brutal effects of globalization on indigenous populations. With acerbic wit Mayol exposes the plight of Chile's Pehuenche-Mapuche people, who lived for centuries in the Ralco Valley above the Biobio River. Having withstood assaults by the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors, they were finally displaced in 2004 when Endesa, Spain's largest hydroelectric power company, completed construction of the world's third largest dam and flooded the valley, forcing them to relocate to poorly constructed homes in the Andes. In Spanish and Mapudungan with subtitles. 87 min. (JK) a Sun 5/13, 7 PM.

RWinter in Baghdad Peruvian-born documentarian Javier Corcuera traveled to Baghdad in early 2003, capturing the city's beauty and the mounting anxiety of four local teens as the U.S. invasion neared. A year later, with the war in progress, he returned to catch up with the boys, all of whom had dropped out of school to help support their families by shining shoes, salvaging bricks, or peddling gasoline on the black market. This intimate and revealing video documentary (2005) includes graphic footage of women and children killed, crippled, blinded, and disfigured by U.S. bombs, and its interviews with the stoic boys supports the assertion of peace activist Kathy Kelly that the war will ensure nothing but enmity in the region. In English and subtitled Arabic, Spanish, and French. 78 min. (AG) a Fri 5/11, 7 PM, and Thu 5/17, 9 PM.

ALSO SHOWING:

KZ a Sun 5/13, 3 PM, and Wed 5/16, 9 PM.

Men on the Edge a Sun 5/13, 5 PM.

Rain in a Dry Land a Sat 5/12, 5 PM, and Tue 5/15, 9 PM.

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars a Sat 5/12 and Thu 5/17, 7 PM.

Source a Sat 5/12, 3 PM, and Wed 5/16, 7 PM.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): The Camden 28.

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