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First to Stand: The Cases and Causes of Irwin Cotler

Screening Information

Ontario Premiere

Film Details

Country Canada
Year 2022
Running Time 75 MIN
Language English
Directors Irene Lilienheim Angelico, Abbey Jack Neidik

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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.



Available February 6th and 8th via the TJFF Virtual Cinema. Order tickets HERE.

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Presentation Details

In-Person Screening Sunday February 5th at 4:30PM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St. West
Virtual Screening Available February 6th and 7th
TJFF Virtual Cinema
Tickets $15