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2008 Festival Report
WAR VS. HUMAN RIGHTS
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On December 13th and 14th, with the first snowy day of Vancouver winter and in the cold weather of minus 5 degrees, Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) organized its annual two day Film Festival with the theme of War vs. Human Rights. In a lively Britannia Community Center Auditorium, around 350 people gathered together to feel the heat and energy of people around the world who are fighting for justice, humanity, and dignity. In these two days, MAWO presented over 20 documentaries and films to make sure that the warmth and inspiration of millions of people around the world could reach human loving people in Vancouver. This year’s festival was also dedicated to the spirit and struggle of US political prisoners Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal and The Cuban 5 Heroes.
Alison Bodine, a MAWO co-chair who is currently serving a two year ban from Canada, gave the grand opening to this year’s festival. All the way from Brooklyn New York, via web cam and projector screen, she spoke to the crowd about the new era of war and occupation and the need to come together to discuss and understand the wars being waged at home and abroad, and the importance to get involved in antiwar organizing. To find out more about Alison’s case visit www.alisonbodine.blogspot.com Both days also featured a unique musical introduction with video from renowned social justice musician and social critic Laurie Anderson and ineradicable footage of Motown legend Marvin Gaye and his live performance of “What’s Goin’ On/What’s Happening Brother” about life, crisis, poverty and war.
Day one, “War War and More War” captured the brutality of war and occupation around the world, past and present, as participants were taken on a journey starting with WWII. The film Forgotten Warriors, introduced by director Loretta Todd, examines the lives of thousands of Indigenous people who fought in the Canadian Army and returned to face fake promises, exclusion and stolen land.
From there the audience was taken to Africa with a contrast between “A Republic Gone Mad” documenting Belgian colonialism in Rwanda and its creation of the 1988 genocide and “My Brothers and sisters Keeper” revealing Cuba’s selfless role in defeating the south African apartheid army in Angola.
From the past participants were taken to the present, the new era of war and occupation, with the film “Motherland Afghanistan”, introduced by Jules Tindungen, US war resister and Afghan war veteran. It revealed the truth of the broken promises and deception of the Canadian led occupation.
Ending day one, “Meeting Resistance” an internationally renowned film of interviews with members of the Iraqi resistance gave people a rare glimpse into the reality of occupation in Iraq.
Outside the auditorium powerful art displays created a stunning backdrop for the festival’s program. In the foyer lay an exhibit of photographs, beautiful and horrific, taken by US war resister Jules Tindungen during his deployment to Afghanistan and dozens of event posters lined the hallway demonstrating only 8 months of MAWO’s antiwar organizing. Photographs and quotations from revolutionary fighter Malcolm X and of oppressed people fighting for self determination stood across from a display of each US political prisoner honored at the festival.
After a full day of art and politics, organizers and participants returned the next morning for an exciting day two of the festival “US War on Human Rights”. Day two was focused on the cases of political prisoners in the US and featured the films “Posada Carriles: Terrorism made in USA” about the notorious CIA trained terrorist Luis Posada Carriles responsible for countless crimes across Latin America and Cuba, and “Mission Against Terror” about the case of the 5 Cuban Heroes who have been imprisoned in the US for over 10 years for peacefully trying to protect their people against this terrorism.
The Film “West 54th – The Case of Leonard Peltier” was introduced by Coast Salish elder Kelly White and documented the case of the Indigenous man who has been unjustly imprisoned in the US for over 30 years.
Day two continued with the intensity of the exciting Canadian premier of “In Prison My Whole Life”, introduced by slam poet Kevan Cameron (aka Scruffmouth), about the case of US political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. This film examines the history of racism in Philadelphia and the struggle of black people fighting for their basic rights.
Hundreds of people across Vancouver were impacted by the films, the stories and the struggles in many different ways. People who attended the festival expressed their feelings on the feedback forms: from “outrage and anger” to “profoundly emotional and motivating” the festival gave people the inspiration to “speak out for human rights”, “the need to share with others”, to “continue learning and fighting” and “to get more involved!”
Photos from the Festival
Saturday December 13
War, War, and More War
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[from left to right] Director Loretta Todd introduces "Forgotten Warriors"; MAWO organizer Noah Fine introduces "War of 33".
[Above and below] Festival participants enjoy lunch, look at Malcolm X display, and check out information tables!
[From left to right] Festival MC Kerri Goodwin; Indigenous Rights and Action Project Organizer Aaron Mercredi intoduces "A Republic Gone Mad"
[From left to right] Checking out the information tables between films; US War Resister Jules Tindungan introduces "Motherland Afghanistan"
[From left to right] Festival MC Kerri Goodwin and MAWO organizer Thomas Davies welcome festival participants;
festival information tables; inside the theatre; MAWO organizers collect petition signatures!
[From left to right] Festival MC Kerri Goodwin and MAWO organizer Thomas Davies wrap up the first day;
signing antiwar petitions; festival banner at Britannia Community Centre
Sunday December 14
US War on Human Rights
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[From left to right] MAWO Executive Committee member Kerri Goodwin welcomes participants to the festival; Doreen Manuel, Capilano University
Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking Program Director introduces "My Brother, My Saviour" and "In the Name of the Lord";
display of photos from Afghanistan by US War Resister Jules Tindungan; inside the theatre
[From left to right] Giving out raffle tickets; participants packed the halls to check out political prioners display about the cases of
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, and the Cuban 5, info tables, and food!
MAWO organizer Thomas Davies; display for the Cuban 5
[From left to right] MAWO organizers Thomas Davies and Kerri Goodwin introducing films; lots of information about antiwar organizing
to take home! Coast Salish Elder Kelly White introduces "West 54th: The Case of Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier"
[From left to right] Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba Coordinator Tamara Hansen introduces
"Posada Carriles: Terrorism Made in the USA" and invites people to celebrate 50 years of the Cuban Revolution; information
tables were busy all day; Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver Organizer Sarah Alwell introduces "Mission Against Terror"
[From left to right] The festival was busy all day; MAWO organizers Thomas Davies and Kerri Goodwin address festival participants;
festival participants check out films of Malcolm X speeches
[From left to right] MAWO Secretary Nita Palmer introduces MAWO's multimedia presentation "Canada: Imperialist Abroad, Imperialist at Home";
MAWO organizer Max Tennant introduces a special presentation on the Warsaw Rebellion; local spoken word artist Kevan Cameron
(aka Scruffmouth) introduces "In Prison My Whole Life"; MAWO organizers Thomas Davies and Kerri Goodwin wrap up festival and
remind participants to check out more upcoming events against war!
A Big Thank You to All Our Sponsors!
2008 FESTIVAL SPONSORS
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