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Amnesty for Oscar entries

Org sponsors screenings of 'Innocent Voices,' 'Rwanda'

Amnesty Intl. has latched onto a couple of Oscar contenders to raise awareness for two hot-button issues at the top of its agenda: child soldiers and the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Org has been sponsoring screenings of “Innocent Voices” and “Hotel Rwanda” as part of its awareness drive. At a brunch hosted Monday by Anjelica Huston and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“21 Grams”) at the home of director-thesp Paul Mazursky, co-producer Lawrence Bender pointed out that “Innocent Voices” was not only about a survivor but a tribute to those who haven’t survived.

‘Innocent’ Oscar entry

Luis Mandoki’s “Innocent Voices,” Mexico’s official entry for the foreign-language Oscar, dwells on the childhood experience of tyro-scribe Oscar Torres in 1980s El Salvador, where 12-year-old boys faced forcible recruitment by the army during the country’s civil war.

“Amnesty Intl. just released its Global Report on Child Soldiers on Nov. 17, so it was fortuitous to have a film such as ‘Voices’ that could help raise worldwide awareness on the issue,” said Bonnie Abaunza, director of Artists for Amnesty. Experts estimate there are some 300,000 child soldiers around the world.

Terry George’s “Hotel Rwanda” tells the true story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who saved more than 1,000 refugees from being slaughtered a decade ago in Rwanda. History repeats itself in Darfur, where ethnic cleansing by government and militia forces have led to tens of thousands of deaths and where a million people have been driven from their homes.

Screenings strategy

Amnesty will be hosting screenings and benefits worldwide as part of its campaign for universal ratification and enforcement of international treaties protecting children as well as to raise international awareness on the genocide in Darfur. Lions Gate owns international rights to both pics. United Artists (MGM) has domestic rights to “Hotel Rwanda” while “Innocent Voices” is still being shopped around. “Voices” will premiere in El Salvador on Dec. 16 and in Mexico by late January.

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