TOTAL DENIAL (Milena Kaneva) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Thin, long-haired and soft-spoken, Ka Hsaw Wa doesn't look like your typical hero. But as someone in this inspirational doc rightly tells us, he's as courageous as Nelson Mandela or the Dalai Lama.
Horrified by the human rights abuses he saw prepetrated by his native Myanmar (formerly Burma) military as a means to complete and protect a multinational oil company pipeline, he documented the atrocities and eventually convinced several victims to sue the California-based owners of one of those companies.
It was a precedent-setting case, and, predictably, much of the film is set in courtrooms or boardrooms. Director Milena Kaneva thrusts her camera into the faces of greedy shareholders, gives us lots of first-hand abuse accounts and lets an oil company lawyer continually dig his own grave with his ridiculous pronouncements.
Most moving is Ka Hsaw Wa's own story of political awareness. He originally wanted to become a businessman, but that dream turned to quiet anger when he came upon the mutilated body of a woman and was later tortured after protesting with students.
Total Denial screens as part of Hot Docs' Join Me! How To Start A Revolution series, Friday (May 5), 9:30 pm, at the Isabel Bader, and Saturday (May 6), 7:30 pm, at the ROM.