Monday, November 12, 2007

Total Denial Screening at the SAJ this Wed at 7.30 pm

Apparently The Open Society Institute will be attending with some monks. Please come with all your friends and/or put it on your email list. Here:

TOTAL DENIAL: THE FACTS BEHIND THE PROTESTS IN BURMA Wednesday, November 14, 7:30 p.m. SAJ 15 West 86th Street, NY NY

Please come to the SAJ and see this film - if you did not already see it at the Human Rights Watch film festival or at its current run at the Cinema Village. It is a revelation, not only about the horrors that many Burmese have endured for decades, but also about the fact that the courts of the USA became a conduit for the redress of some of those government-perpetrated atrocities. In this case, the plaintiffs were villagers of the Tenasserim region of Burma, through whose state a natural gas pipe line was built by Total and Unocal (now Chevron) with the use of slave labour, which is far more brutal than it sounds. In describing what became of them, the film also sheds light on other aspects of the constant struggle of the people in Burma. Since the film provides this information so brilliantly you will learn that action at this critical time can be very effective.

After the screening, Milena Kaneva, the film's eloquent and magnetic director, and Moe Chan, of Burma Point, which works with refugee Burmese communities and gathers worldwide support for human rights and democracy movements in Burma, will respond to your questions. They will be joined by Burmese monks from monasteries in the New York area and by representatives from human rights and legal organisations working on resolutions of the situation in Burma.

Total Denial could not be more timely, not only with regard to the recent protests in Burma, but also in connection with abuses committed by US-based corporations in Iraq and elsewhere. It provides an opportunity to learn, at no charge and via the illuminating medium of film, not only about conditions in Burma but also how several complex areas of law were argued by prominent corporate and civil rights lawyers, resulting in an expansion of the right, under the Alien Torts Claims Act of 1798, of victims of human rights abuses elsewhere to sue individuals and corporations in U.S courts.
(for more on this see

LA TIMES review: An unexpectedly gripping look at the ongoing political and human rights situation in Myanmar/Burma. Bulgarian-born filmmaker Milena Kaneva forges the film with of a rough-hewn urgency, and whatever it may lack in graceful image-making it more than makes up for in emotional immediacy. Burmese activist Ka Hsaw Wa -- who lives as a fugitive outlaw when in his own country -- and his American wife use a semi-obscure law that ironically dates back to Colonial times to initiate a lawsuit in the U.S. court system for abusive activities undertaken on behalf of American businesses operating in Burma. The cross-cutting between the jungles of Southeast Asia and the courtrooms of California never ceases to startle, and Kaneva cannily uses the lawsuit to give the film a strong spine and sense of drive.

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