Human Rights Traveling Film Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

Human Rights Traveling Film Festival 

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This touring program of films runs Friday through Thursday, May 6 through 12, at Facets Cinematheque. Unless otherwise noted, all screenings will be video projection. Tickets are $9, $5 for Facets members; for more information call 773-281-4114.

R Deadline

Katy Chevigny and Kirsten Johnson built their video documentary about capital punishment around Governor George Ryan's decision to empty death row before his term ended in January 2003, and the sleekly tooled narrative is so rich with political history, moral argument, and raw emotion that I found myself on the edge of my seat even though I already knew the outcome. The molten core of the story is the clemency hearings Ryan held in 2002, at which family members of both the condemned and their victims pleaded for justice in the most intimate terms; Chevigny and Johnson balance this with a cool assessment of how crime and the death penalty became a national issue in the 1970s. At 92 minutes this could hardly be considered a definitive statement, yet its combination of high drama and carefully articulated principle delivers quite a punch. (JJ) (Sat 5/7, 1 PM; Sun 5/8, 4 PM)

Discordia and Goodbye Hungaria

Montreal's Concordia University made international headlines in September 2002 when a student rally protesting a campus visit by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu resulted in a small-scale riot. The school's temporary ban on all Middle-East-related activism further kindled political passions, which eventually reignited and led to the suspension of the Jewish student league Hillel. Shot on digital video, Ben Addelman and Samir Mallal's Discordia (2004, 71 min.) is a textbook case showing how easily young people on either side of the conflict can be blindsided by emotion and manipulated by the media. In English and subtitled French, Hebrew, and Arabic. Jon Nealon's inspiring Goodbye Hungaria (2003, 56 min.), in English and subtitled Arabic, profiles a Palestinian human rights advocate interned at a refugee camp in Debrecen, Hungary. (AG) (Sat 5/7, 6:30 and 9 PM)

R Juvies and One Shot

Juvies began as a project for a film-production class at a youth correctional facility in Los Angeles and evolved into an eye-opening documentary (2004, 66 min.) on the growing number of kids being tried and sentenced as adults. Their lengthy prison terms are often disproportionate to their crimes; equally alarming is a trend in state legislatures to extend jail time for potential repeat offenders. Leslie Neale directed, and former juvie Mark Wahlberg provides voice-over narration. Nurit Kedar's gripping One Shot (2004, 60 min.), in Hebrew with subtitles, includes harrowing interviews with snipers on the Israel Defense Force and soldiers' own video of antiterrorist missions. (AG) (Fri 5/6, 6:30 and 9 PM; Juvies only, Wed 5/11, 8:30 PM; One Shot only, Thu 5/12, 7 PM)

R Repatriation

Kim Dong-won's 2004 video documentary explores an ideological and personal mess, bravely refusing to simplify or preach. A liberal South Korean, Kim befriended a group of North Korean spies who had refused to "convert." After decades in prison, these newly released old men remain dedicated socialists who hope for both repatriation and reunification. Are they martyrs who endured torture in prison for a cause, or naive fools? Kim takes his time, letting us see how the division of Korea has left everyone, himself included, knotted in confusion. What begins as a portrait of a few individuals becomes a probing look at two nations. In Korean with subtitles. 149 min. (HSa) (Sun 5/8, 1 PM; Tue 5/10, 7 PM)

Saints and Sinners

Two men want to be married in the Catholic Church and are disappointed when several priests refuse to perform the ceremony. The lovers are likable enough, and Abigail Honor's documentary is decently made. Yet the story is familiar to the point of cliche, from their early problems coming out to one's mistaken marriage to a woman to their chance meeting in a Christopher Street bar. They finally find a gay Catholic priest who will marry them in an Episcopal church, and the wedding is lovely. But the men never manage to explain why having been raised Catholic keeps them in a church that views their obviously ordinary love as "intrinsically disordered." 71 min. (FC) (Wed 5/11, 7 PM; Thu 5/12, 8:30 PM)

R What the Eye Doesn't See

Critics have likened this sprawling Peruvian political drama (2003) to Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia, though Costa-Gavras's 1973 thriller State of Siege would be another apt comparison. With six interlocking stories that cut across social and economic lines, the film defies meaningful summary, but it's set in Lima in 2000, when the Fujimori administration was rocked by the release of secret videotapes documenting endemic government corruption. At first the scandal functions as a fascinating backdrop to the action, but eventually each story intersects with the crisis. Francisco Lombardi's direction is taut, the cinematography excellent, and the cast superb; especially impressive is Gustavo Bueno as a lawyer whose motives for helping the teenage daughter of a political detainee are less than pure. In Spanish with subtitles. 149 min. (Cliff Doerksen) 35 mm. (Sat 5/7, 3 PM; Mon 5/9, 7 PM)

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Performing Arts
June 21
Performing Arts
Guards at the Taj Steppenwolf Theatre
June 13

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