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“Total Denial” awarded by Vaclav Havel at the One World Int’l Human Rights Festival

Vaclav Havel presents his own prize to “Total Denial” at the One World Int’l Human Rights Festival

Milena Kaneva’s feature documentary, “Total Denial” has been awarded the Vaclav Havel humanitarian award in Prague, presented by the poet, playwright and former president of the Czech Republic himself.

“Total Denial” tells the story of Ka Hsaw and his ongoing struggle to save the Karen tribes people of Burma. Great cultures have always been built on the backs of slaves. Unfortunately, some political strategies don't change, but nor does the will to oppose them.

Ka Hsaw, a Burmese refugee now living in neighbouring Thailand, makes trips back into the jungle of his home country in search of villagers from the Karen tribe. Recording their stories and testimonies on camera, he collects evidence against the trans–national oil companies Unocal and Total. These two economic giants annually contribute fifteen million dollars to the Burmese government. Although the corporations' names and logos are posted above the door to every hospital and school, it is clear that the money goes elsewhere. The governing military junta is constantly arming its militia. When we join Ka Hsaw and head for the green mountains, we see the other side of this 'humane' gesture made by the companies' wealthy shareholders. Heliports and mining equipment have replaced the original settlements of the jungle people, who only took enough from their beautiful and almost untouched natural surroundings to enable them to survive. Soldiers torched their houses and took them away to forced labour camps, turning them into modern slaves. Ka Hsaw's courage in filing a lawsuit against one of the biggest global corporations on the planet has inspired people fighting for human rights in other countries, such as Indonesia and Nigeria, to do the same.

Born in Rousse, Bulgaria, director Milena Kaneva moved to Italy in 1987 before the fall of the Berlin wall and began a career as a journalist and producer with the news agency WTN (later APTN). In 2000, she produced her first feature-length documentary "The Initiation" about female circumcision in Mali and won first prize at the Due Mondi Festival.

An exclusive interview with Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize laureate kept under house arrest by the military dictatorship, was Kaneva’s life-changing introduction to Burma. “Total Denial” was written, produced and filmed by Kaneva herself, the result of five years’ hard work in the jungles of Burma and the law courts of the USA.


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