Amnesty International, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights organization, announced the program for its second annual international film festival in Washington, DC, September 14-16 2006. The 2006 festival will again be presented in partnership with “National Geographic Live!,” National Geographic’s program for featuring films, lectures and performances. Known for showcasing films that illuminate powerful stories of human struggle, sacrifice and triumph, the film festival will open with the U.S. premiere of Phillip Noyce’s political thriller “Catch a Fire” and close with a special 20th anniversary screening of Oliver Stone’s “Salvador.”
The festival begins Thursday, September 14, at 6:30 p.m. with the new Focus Features movie “Catch a Fire,” based on the true story of real-life South African hero Patrick Chamusso. An ordinary and apolitical man, Chamusso becomes a rebel fighter after he and his wife are unjustly tortured, staging daring solo attacks against the brutal apartheid regime in the early 1980s. “Catch a Fire” stars Academy Award winner Tim Robbins, Derek Luke and Bonnie Henna. The film will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival before its U.S. premiere at the Amnesty International Film Festival and its U.S. release in October.
Director Noyce, actors Robbins, Luke and Henna, and Chamusso himself will attend the Thursday night screening, along with screenwriter Shawn Slovo and producer Robyn Slovo.
“Amnesty International’s film festival is a unique venue for filmmakers to present stories that expose the diverse challenges people face around the world,” said Alessandra Gallo, director, Amnesty International Film Festival. “In today’s political climate, filmmakers must have the freedom to communicate varying and controversial points of view and use their art to challenge people to think about difficult moral and ethical subjects. We hope that this year’s festival will inspire people to take action to secure universal freedoms for everyone.”
In addition to “Catch a Fire,” the following films will be featured at the film festival:
THE GROUND TRUTH
Focus Features’ documentary “The Ground Truth” stunned audiences at the 2006 Sundance and Nantucket Film Festivals. The film’s subjects are patriotic young Americans — ordinary men and women who heeded the call for military service in Iraq — as they experience recruitment and training, combat, homecoming, and the struggle to reintegrate with families and communities. Directed by Patricia Foulkrod. The film will have its Washington, DC premiere on September 14, and be released in theaters the following day and on DVD in late September.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET
“The World According to Sesame Street” explores the drama and complexities behind producing international versions of the world’s most-watched children’s television program. Directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan. Washington, DC, premiere.
ALL ABOUT DARFUR
In “All About Darfur,” Sudanese filmmaker Taghreed Elsanhouri talks with ordinary Sudanese in outdoor tea shops, markets, refugee camps and living rooms about how deeply rooted prejudices could suddenly burst into a wildfire of ethnic violence. The film includes interviews with intellectuals, activists, and genocide survivors and pays particular attention to the opinions and concerns of women. Directed by Taghreed Elsanhouri.
As westerners revel in designer lattes and cappuccinos, impoverished Ethiopian coffee growers suffer the bitter taste of injustice. This eye-opening exposé of the multi-billion dollar coffee industry traces one man’s fight for fair trade. This film premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Marc and Nick Francis. Washington, DC premiere.
The merchant ship Golden Venture ran aground near New York City in 1993 with 300 undocumented Chinese immigrants onboard. Many of them went to jail for up to four years, and they’re still seeking permanent legal residence (i.e. green cards) today. An engrossing chronicle of immigrants and their struggles for recognition and a better life. This film screened at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. Directed by Peter Cohn. Washington, DC, premiere.
As a teenager in East Los Angeles, Mario Rocha was sentenced to life in prison for a murder he did not commit. Undaunted, Mario, his family and a dedicated team of advocates have spent more than 10 years navigating the justice system fighting for his freedom even though they have a less than 1% chance of overturning his conviction. Like a procedural crime drama in reverse, in that all the evidence is used to try to get someone out of jail, “Mario’s Story” is a deeply moving film and also a nail-biting thriller. Directed by Susan Koch and Jeff Werner. East Coast premiere.
A special 20th anniversary celebration courtesy of Oliver Stone
Critically acclaimed as one of Stone’s best accomplishments, “Salvador” is the real story of an American journalist who drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship, including the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. He forms an uneasy alliance with both guerillas in the countryside, who want him to get pictures out to the U.S. press, and the right-wing military, who want him to bring them photographs of the rebels. Directed by Oliver Stone. Starring James Woods, James Belushi.
“As a filmmaker, I want to entertain, but also to reveal the human spirit and condition in all its forms,” said Oliver Stone, director, “Salvador.” “When making the movie ‘Salvador,’ my mission was to raise questions and challenge the audience to look beyond their own lives and feel what was happening to others. Amnesty International, in its work and with its film festival, seeks to strengthen the human mind, condition and spirit. That is why I am proud to present the 20th anniversary screening of ‘Salvador’ at this year’s festival.”
“As two organizations who champion the beauty, diversity and freedom of all who inhabit our planet, Amnesty International and National Geographic are the perfect partners to host the US premiere of ‘Catch a Fire,'” said Phillip Noyce, director, “Catch a Fire.”
The film festival will take place at National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. Ticket prices are as follows:
General Admission $10
National Geographic Members $8
Amnesty International Members $8
Seniors and Students (w/ valid ID) $5
Children 12 and under $5
Tickets can be purchased by calling 202-857-7700 or by visiting www.nationalgeographic.com/nglive.
About the Amnesty International Film Festival
Since 1991, the Amnesty International Film Festival has been successfully impacting audiences across the United States with films focusing on the world’s most urgent human rights challenges. The core of the festival is the work of the gifted, dedicated filmmakers who overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to bring their visions of humanity’s greatest obstacles to the screen. A program of the world’s largest human rights organization, the Film Festival travels annually to various U.S. cities as well as to dozens of university and high school campuses around the country with its Festival on Campus program. The Washington, DC festival started in 2005 in collaboration with National Geographic. For more information, log on to www.amnestyusa.org/filmfest.