The Human Rights Watch film festival comes to Guelph

Monday, January 21, 2008

  • The Atom Bomb exploding over Hiroshima

    The Atom Bomb exploding over Hiroshima

Written by www.thecannon.ca

This Weekend the CSA Human Rights Office (HRO) hosted the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.

The titles available for viewing were part of a traveling component of the larger Human Rights Watch (HRW) International film festival from New York and London. The traveling component, which allows people to rent the rights to screen the films, is an attempt by the festival to make the films more widely accessible. These rights can be purchased for 250$ each.

The HRW International Film Festival's website say; "We see these films as capable of creating forums for discussion in all kinds of communities. People are able to view human rights issues and their impact through the art of film - a medium that has the power to share individual stories of suffering and of strength across both physical and philosophical borders.'

Tucker Gordon, the events coordinator for the CSA HRO, said; "The documentaries we selected span a wide variety of times and issues." He was excited about all the films and insisted; "The documentaries give historical context and are still relevant today."

"Compared to mainstream documentaries, like Sicko (Michael Moore) for example, these films don't have an agenda to push. They didn't mind examining the underbelly. It's people who are there and are living it. They tell a story... the documentaries let intent rise naturally." Says Tucker.

He ran into an accessibility issue while organizing the Guelph component of the festival; "Most of the films have subtitles. Some one with low vision can't see them. But you can't legally 'tamper' with the videos by incorporating video description. There is nothing really the University can do about this and that is the problem; you need to put in extra effort just to be on an equitable level.''

White Light / Black Rain
A documentary by: Steven Okazaki, USA, 2007

On Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan, American forces dropped the first atomic bomb. This movie juxtaposed the contemporary with the historical, and focused on survivors of this event. Interviews illuminated first hand accounts of the horror of the bombing and the emotional and physical aftermath. During the bombing some children watched their whole families die. Others were horribly wounded and watched hundreds die around them in the ensuing black radioactive rain. Other survivors told of how the Japanese government ostracized them and how illness was compounded with poverty. Even currently, children of survivors keep this secret because of the attached stigma.

The documentary is both moving and terrifying. It's hard to imagine an event more devastating than an atomic bombing. To contrast the crystal clear memories of the survivors, Japanese teens were asked what happened on August 6 and 9 of 1945, none knew. The film was an incredible reminder of the absolute carnage of war. It is still as relevant as ever, because, as stated at the end of the film; we now have enough bombs to equal 400, 000 Hiroshima's.

Other Titles shown this past week and weekend were:
The City of Photographers
White Light/Black Rain
Hot House
A Lesson of Belarusian
The Devil Came on Horseback
Enemies of Happiness
We’ll Never Meet Childhood Again
Carla’s List

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