First to Stand: The Cases and Causes of Irwin Cotler

Filmmakers Irene Angelico and Abbey Neidik (Dark Lullabies) follow Irwin Cotler and his team of young activists at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre as they take on the cases of political prisoners and human rights activists battling against the world’s most repressive regimes.

In the landmark case of Russian refusenik Natan Sharansky, Cotler devised a “mobilization of shame” against the human rights violator—essentially, a PR blitz against a superpower to convince them that holding a political prisoner is bad for their image. Tyrants aren’t amused by someone embarrassing their regime in front of the rest of the world — especially Vladimir Putin. Like others who crossed Putin’s path, Cotler was poisoned in Moscow. But the attempt on his life hasn’t dampened his commitment. He is today one of the world’s most effective activists in the protection of human rights.

Join the Honourable Irwin Cotler (via Zoom), directors Irene Lilienheim Angelico & Abbey Jack Neidik, and activist Shaparak Shajarizadeh in-person for a post-screening Q&A.

Presented by TJFF and Hot Docs