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Friday, September 25, 2009

So Far from Home

Earlier this week, I attended the premier of So Far From Home, a documentary made by Vladimir Kabelik (writer, director and producer).

It narrates the story of five journalists who had to flee their homelands because they were just doing their work. The powers that be in their countries didn’t like them doing their work so diligently.

The men behind the bulletproof shields did what comes naturally to them – abuse the power vested in them or wrested by them, and turned the lives of these journalists into a living hell.

Left with no choice, they ran to save their lives and came to Canada.

Here their struggle changed complexion but didn’t cease. All of them continue to fight a different battle of having to come to terms with the new reality of their lives.

Two of them have been living alone in Canada fearing for the safety of their loved ones left behind. Two others had to see their colleagues and friends dying in prison or executed by gunmen.

Kabelik’s film depicts the stories of Mohsin Abbas (Pakistan), Aaron Berhane (Eritrea), Nik Kowsar (Iran), Mir Mahdavi (Afghanistan) and Mike Odongkara (Uganda). Nik’s a political cartoonist and Mike’s a photo-journalist.

All so different from each other, from different backgrounds and yet all with almost the same story – of struggle, bitterness, exile, duty, honour and an all-enveloping sadness.

Kabelik weaves a tale that narrates the lives of these five journalists and brings us up close to the tribulations and torture they encountered merely because they tried to tell inconvenient truths.

Three journalists in the film are students of Sheridan College’s Canadian Journalism program. The film acknowledges the contribution of Canadian Journalist for Free Expression (CJFE) and the Sheridan College in the making of the documentary.

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