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Miroslaw Dembinski
at Human Rights Watch 2007 International Film Festival

Saturday, June 23, 2007 - Thursday, June 28, 2007
June 23, 1:30 PM
June 25, 4:00 PM
June 26, 6:30 PM
June 28, 1:30 PM

Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
165 W. 65th Street, New York, NY
Tickets: $11; students $7 Tel: (212) 875-5600

In Belarus, one of Poland's formerly Soviet neighbors to the east, the authoritarian policies and practices of the Lukashenko regime have prompted harsh criticism from the international community, including the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus. One of Poland's most socially engaged and frequently honored documentary filmmakers, Miroslaw Dembinski, has captured the spirit of its neighbor's beleaguered democratic opposition through the eyes and voices of a group of student activists, among them one Franak Viacorka. With the break-up of the Soviet Union and independence of Belarus in 1991, Franaks father, a frequently imprisoned dissident, had established a lycee (preparatory school) dedicated to the cultivation of the Belarusian language, sense of national identity, and democratic values. When the school was banned in 1993, it went underground, its students creating their own underground newsletter, protest songs, and leaflets, and working for the campaign of opposition candidate Alaksander Milinkevich in 1995 when Lukashenko, having modified the Constitution, ran for a third term. The students join the three-day mass demonstration in Minsk protesting the manipulated election that kept Lukashenko in power - a peaceful protest crushed by force. The film is a tribute to the courage and stubborn hope of these young Belarusians. It also features Milinkevich, whom the European Parliament announced on October 26 as its choice for the Sakharov Prize, the European Union's most important human rights award.

The film has won top honors at major documentary festivals in Amsterdam (IDFA 2006, The Moviesquad DocU), Leipzig (DOK 2006, best Eastern European film), Prague (International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival "One World", the 2007 Vaclav Havel Award), and many others.

A Lesson in Belarusian, 2006, 51 min., in Polish and Belarusian with English subtitles (also known as A Lesson of Belorusian), will be preceded by two short films: Pizza Surveillance Feature, by Micah Laaker, produced by the American Civil Liberties Union (USA, 2005, 3 min.), and Virtual Freedom, by Gef Senz and Maung Maung Aye (Australia, 2006, 5 min.).

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Credits and Awards

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