Monday, October 27, 2003

The UNAFF 2003

The Stanford Film Society in cohoot with the United Nations Association has, for the last few days, been hosting the, United Nations Association Film Festival. That site has some great links to social activist sites including one that was recommended to us called, Witness.

I personally managed to get my grubby hands on more than my fair share of tickets as my department was giving some away for freebies and I was there early enough to get first choice.

The first film I saw was "Anonmously Yours" which looked at the sex trade industry in Burma and Thailand. They interviewed, among others, two girls who were victims of poverty and hated their lot in life, another woman who seemed to have accepted and made the best of bad situation and noted that it was a better life than the poverty she had come from, and the third main character was a woman who worked at the brothel selling the girls who had become a social worker in Burma.

The next two sessions I attended were on Friday and came under the theme of "War and Peace".

The Tree That Remembers interviewed men and women who had become poltical prisoners in Iran during the Revolution before escaping to Canada. The documentary was motivated by the suicide of an Iranian former prisoner who killed himself in Canada. The director tried to find out why this man had been so haunted 10 years after escaping from Iran that he couldn't bear to live anymore.

The next film, "Plan Colombia" was not surprisingly about The US' Plan Colombia. It exposed the hypocrisy and bordering on conspiracy theory US policy in Colombia, supposedly to fight drugs but actually to make money for the military industrial complex in America and to support the Colombian government to ensure a stable and close oil supply. It went into the role of the School of the America's in training terrorists and future murders and dictators. During the discussion after the movie one of the audience brought to our attention the School of the America's Watch which protests against the school.

The next session focused on Africa with Liberia: America's Stepchild, which outlined the history between US and Liberia and how Liberia got to its current situation of bloody civil war, and Zimbabw Countdown which chronicled the rise of Robert Mugabe during the war of independence from British rule to the present day and how he has changed from a freedom fighter into a cruel dictator.

And finally, I only got time to go see one movie today, which also happens to be the festivals final day. Today I saw "Storming the Summit: The Bloody Days of Genoa" which told the story of police and political conspiracy at the G8 summit in Genoa to implant violent fascist protestors amidst the demonstrators to discredit the anti-globalist movement. It showed some fairly violent footage of the violent crackdown by the police during the summit as well.

That was the sixth annual UNAFF so presumably there will be more to come in the following years. I found these documentaries to be well prepared, interesting, and highly informative. Of course, it also meant that I have not done ANY study this weekend at all despite the onset of mid-term assessments.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui