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Produced and Directed by Irene Angelico and Abbey Jack Neidik

Canada, 2022

Documentary 

English 

85 Minutes 

Anyone with care and courage can change history.

First to Stand follows Irwin Cotler and his team of young activists at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre as they take on the cases and cause of political prisoners and human rights activists battling against the world’s most repressive regimes.

Cotler began fighting for freedom and justice in law school with the landmark case of Russian refusnik Natan Sharansky, for whom he devised his “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. The strategy led to Gorbachev releasing Sharansky in 1986.

It is a film of high stakes, emotion and drama, which takes us from the streets to the strategy sessions and corridors of power, as Cotler meets with the heads of state arguing passionately for his client’s release. With unprecedented access, we will follow their families and supporters.

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