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The Human Rights Watch Collection [7 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Film Notes
  • Bonus Films
  • Filmmaker Interviews
  • Extra Footage

Synopsis

Dreaming Lhasa
A Tibetan-American filmmaker seeking to capture the tales of former political prisoners on film is drawn into the plight of Tibet's exile community in this drama from filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. Though she currently hails from New Your City, Karma (Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso) is one-hundred-percent Tibetan by blood. Upon arriving at the Indian border town of Dharamsala that is currently occupied by a number of Tibetan exiles, Karma makes the acquaintance of ex-monk Dhondup (Jampa Kalsang), who has fled from Tibet after fighting against the government. Soon embarking on a journey with Dhondup to seek out the missing Loga (Phuntsok Namgyal Dhumkhang) and deliver to him a treasured charm box, Karma finds herself immersed in Tibetan Buddhist culture and forming a close bond with a handsome young Tibetan adventurer named Jigme (Tenzin Jigme). ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Roses in December
The documentary Roses in December takes a critical look at American foreign policy in regards to Central America by telling the story of Jean Donovan, a missionary in El Salvador who was murdered along with a number of colleagues. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

The Camden 28
Filmmaker Anthony Giacchino explores the remarkable story of 28 anti-war activists who protested the Vietnam War by conspiring to break into a draft-board office in Camden, NJ, and destroy government draft records identifying young men available for military service. On Sunday, August 22, 1971, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General John Mitchell announced that 20 anti-war activists had been arrested in and around a Camden draft-board office. Just five days later, the indictment of those 20 individuals -- as well as eight more who were accused of being involved in the incident -- was made public by Mitchell. Charged with conspiracy to remove and destroy files from the draft board, FBI office, and Army Intelligence office, many of the indicted faced up to 47 years in a federal prison if convicted. While the accused referred to themselves as "America's Conscience," the government dubbed them the Camden 28. Many were surprised to hear that all but one of the accused were prominent religious figures -- including four Catholic priests, a Lutheran minister, and 22 Catholic laypeople. All involved claimed that killing was morally indefensible, even in war. Over the course of the next two months, the defense would present its case and many of the defendants would passionately plead their case. In this documentary, filmmaker Giacchino explores the friendships and betrayals that played out as the controversial case of the Camden 28 went before a jury during a time when the country was divided by a war that seemed without end. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Khamosh Pani
Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar directs the political drama Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters). Set in a small Pakistani village in 1979, the film follows widowed family matriarch Ayesha (Kirron Kher) as she struggles under the martial law that declares her country a Muslim state. Her teenage son Saleem (Aamir Malik) is encouraged by his wealthy girlfriend Zubeida (Shilpa Shukla) to get a job. However, he ends up hanging out with a bunch of Muslim fundamentalists and causing trouble for the Sikh pilgrims. Meanwhile, Ayesha remembers secrets from her past awakened by the arrival of the Sikh pilgrim Jaswant (Navtej Johar). Silent Waters won the Golden Leopard award at the 2003 Locarno International Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
The brutality of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime is documented in Rithy Panh's documentary, S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine. S21 was a notorious detention center, an abandoned suburban schoolhouse used by the Angkor (the Communist Party organization) for the imprisonment and torture of thousands of innocent citizens. Prisoners were tortured until they confessed to false crimes, and were also ordered to incriminate others. Of the approximately 17,000 prisoners who were interred there, about seven survived. Panh interviews two of the survivors, Vann Nath and Chum Mey. While Mey can barely bring himself to speak of the horrors he endured, including the loss of his family, Nath agrees to return to the prison, which is now the Tuol Sleng S21 Genocide Museum, and discuss his ordeal. Panh also brings back several of the Khmer Rouge personnel, who committed atrocious acts on behalf of the regime, many while they were still teenagers. The guards and interrogators give a horrific tour, reenacting their treatment of the prisoners, and going through the regimes detailed records, including photographs, to refresh their memories of the horror they took part in. Panh allows Nath to confront them about their actions, but most of them claim that they themselves were also victims, indoctrinated in the regime's poisonous ideology, and too afraid for their own safety to show any compassion for their victims. Panh himself was imprisoned at a Khmer Rouge labor camp as a teenager, before escaping to Thailand in 1979. S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine won the Prix François Chalais at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, and was also selected for the 2003 New York Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi

Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World
After Stonewall director John Scagliotti approaches the issue of international gay rights in the documentary Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World. With the 2001 police raid on an Egyptian disco at its center, the film explores several global instances of mistreatment against homosexuals. Through interviews and personal accounts, Scagliotti finds human rights violations and other dire conditions in Honduras, Samoa, India, Namibia, Pakistan, and Vietnam. This film also includes a discussion of pop culture images, the Internet, and the progression of changing attitudes in some countries. Narrated by Janeane Garofalo, Dangerous Living was screened at the 2003 San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

The Devil's Miner
The forsaken world of Bolivian silver miners is brought to the screen in this powerful documentary. Basilio Vargas is a 14-year-old boy living in the impoverished Cerro Rico region of Bolivia. Since the death of his father, Basilio and his younger brother Bernardino are the breadwinners in his family, and they support their mother and siblings working in the Cerro Rico silver mines. Basilio is one of 800 children who regularly work the mines, and it's indicative of the danger and physically punishing nature of the work that the miners swear fealty to "Tio" -- the Devil -- because it's believed God would never enter such a place. Cerro Rico's silver miners have an average life expectancy of 40 years or less, thanks to the poisoned air, the constant heat, the use of explosives, the primitive and unsafe equipment, and the long hours demanded of the laborers (most are sent into the mines for 24-hour shifts, and both children and adults often chew coca leaves to ward off hunger and fatigue). While Basilio's more fortunate classmates make fun of him when he's able to attend school, he realized his family need the money and he's willing to endure the agony for the small wage he makes every day. The Devil's Miner chronicles several days in the life of Basilio Vargas as a document of the inhuman conditions he and his fellow miners face, as well as the young man's bravery. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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