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Meredith Alexander, News Service (650) 725-0224; e-mail

UN Film Festival brings timely documentaries to Stanford

Afghan women who fled the Taliban regime are the focus of the film Where Women Are Banned, one of 31 documentaries coming to Stanford as part of the fourth annual United Nations Association Film Festival.

The festival, which runs from Oct. 25 to 28, showcases films shot as far away as Afghanistan, Lebanon, South Africa, India and Brazil. This year, the timely documentaries focus on the theme of "Dialogue Among Civilizations."

Jasmina Bojic, the festival's founder and director, hopes the screenings will inspire viewers to feel "tolerance, open-mindedness, an eagerness to learn more and to connect with the world."

Co-sponsored by the United Nations Association Mid-Peninsula Chapter, a nonprofit organization that supports U.N. causes, and the Stanford Film Society, a 5-year-old student group, this year's series will kick off with three pre-festival screenings in San Francisco. On Wednesday, Oct. 17, 90 Miles, a film about how Cubans and Cuban Americans deal with the separation between the island nation and the United States, will be shown at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco. That screening is followed by a special showing of four short films, including Where Women Are Banned, at the Presidio Alliance on Friday, Oct. 19, and a presentation of the film Liquid Crystal Vision, an exploration of raves and religion, at the Justice League on Oct. 21.

Stanford's program opens with a reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Cubberley Auditorium. International food will be offered, accompanied by music by the band Potential and an exhibit of photos from Share International magazine. Bojic, who is a film critic and a lecturer in humanities and continuing studies at Stanford, will welcome the audience.

The first film to be shown at Stanford has special resonance for the university community. Long Night's Journey into Day, directed by Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman, focuses on the story of Amy Biehl, a white U.S. Fulbright scholar and anti-apartheid activist who was living in South Africa just before its first democratic election in 1993. She was stabbed to death in a township outside Cape Town one day before her scheduled departure. The young South Africans convicted of the murder later requested amnesty, citing the racial turmoil at the time of the crime. The filmmakers accompanied Biehl's parents as they traveled to South Africa and made it clear they would not oppose amnesty. The filmmakers will answer questions after the 94-minute film, which was nominated for an Academy Award last year.

Later that evening, at 10:45 p.m., Jay Rosenblatt's 30-minute film Human Remains will be screened. Rosenblatt, based in San Francisco, has taught in Stanford's documentary program. The film delves into the details of the private lives of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Francisco Franco and Mao Tse-tung.

The second day of the festival, Oct. 26, begins at 3:30 p.m. at Annenberg Auditorium in the Cummings Art Building. One of the day's highlights is at 9:15 p.m., when Tassia Kobylinska's 16-minute Where Women Are Banned will explore the lives and words of three women from Afghanistan who chose to flee the Taliban. After experiencing the limits on their rights in the fundamentalist country, they felt they had no choice but to emigrate to Europe. London-based Kobylinska plans to be present to discuss the film.

The festival's third day, Oct. 27, will showcase more films beginning at 1 p.m. at Annenberg Auditorium. At 4:30 p.m., Death on a Friendly Border will be shown. The 25-minute film about the Mexican-American border was produced and directed by Rachel Antell, a recent graduate of Stanford's documentary film program. The film follows one woman and her baby on their perilous journey from an impoverished Mexican village into the U.S. desert. Antell plans to attend the screening.

Additional films will be screened at Cubberley Auditorium on Oct. 28 beginning at 1 p.m., including In Cane for Life, a 68-minute documentary about the Brazilian sugar cane harvest by Jorge Wolney Atalla, at 4 p.m.

Advance tickets will be available at Kepler's Bookstore at 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, and the UNA store at 552 Emerson St., Palo Alto. Tickets for the Stanford screenings will be free for Stanford undergraduates, $5 for other students and $8 for the public, per session. (Some sessions begin in the afternoon, some in the evening.) For more information and the festival schedule, visit or call (650) 724-5544.


By Meredith Alexander

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