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Two Canadian docs make international waves

Prom Night in Mississippi, The Strangest Dream attract attention worldwide

Last Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2009 | 3:53 PM ET

Two Canadian documentaries, by directors Paul Saltzman and Eric Bednarski, are attracting international attention.

Saltzman's Prom Night in Mississippi, which makes its Canadian debut at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto on May 7, has been named best documentary at the AFI-Dallas International Film Festival. And it won audience prizes at two Mississippi festivals in April.

Featuring actor Morgan Freeman and the students of Charleston High School in Charleston, Miss., which Freeman attended, the film takes a look at a school in the American South where racism is so ingrained that separate proms are held for black and white students.

It follows what happened when Freeman agreed to foot the bill for a prom, provided the event was fully desegregated.

Prom Night premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

It will be aired in the U.S. on HBO on July 20 and in Canada on the Super Channel and Global this fall.

It will run in theatres across Canada in September.

Halifax director Eric Bednarski's latest documentary, The Strangest Dream, is creating waves in international political circles.

On Monday, it will be shown to members of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.

The National Film Board of Canada documentary, about the late Nobel Peace Prize-winning physicist Joseph Rotblat and his anti-nuclear movement, first screened last fall at the Atlantic Film Festival.

Since then, it has been viewed at the European Parliament in Brussels and at the 58th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs in The Hague.

"I had no idea it would be this well received," Bednarski told The Canadian Press on Thursday while en route to New York for the U.N.'s third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Nuclear Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

The Polish-born Rotblat was recruited by the U.S. government in the 1940s with other top scientists to build the first atomic bomb. Acting on his conscience, he left the group known as the Manhattan Project and went on to win the Nobel Peace Price in 1995 for his work with the Pugwash conference on Science and World Affairs.

"I think his life was inspiring," said Bednarski, whose previous documentaries include Postcard from Auschwitz.

The Strangest Dream will be screened at the Canadian Museum for Civilization on May 26 by members of the Canadian Parliamentary Caucus of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

It will be broadcast June 3 on the Documentary Channel.

With files from The Canadian Press

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