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NZ Premier of Controversial Documentary

Media release - For Immediate Use

NZ Premier of Controversial Documentary on Courage Day - The Day of the Imprisoned Writer

Should a sex blogger be banned? Should a Holocaust denier be thrown in jail? Is there any qualification to freedom of expression? These are the kind of questions this documentary provokes. AN INDEPENDENT MIND is a unique feature-length documentary inspired by one of the most fundamental and controversial of human rights: Freedom of Expression.

15th November is the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer. Throughout the world, PEN (the international writers' organisation which champions freedom of expression) holds events to recognise writers who have been persecuted for exercising their right of Freedom of Expression.

The New Zealand Society of Authors which incorporates PEN honours this event as Courage Day. It has been named jointly after James Courage and his grandmother. James' novel A way of love was banned by New Zealand Customs in 1959 because he dared to express homosexuality in his writing. His grandmother Sarah Courage's book Lights and Shadows of Colonial Life which describes colonial life in New Zealand was burned by neighbours who resented comments she made about them.

2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is therefore fitting that to mark this year's Courage Day, New Zealand's authors will gather throughout the country for the New Zealand non-commercial release of this controversial documentary by BAFTA award winning director Rex Bloomstein.

Enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights of all. It is the very cornerstone of democracy and underpins the values of any 'free' society. But with the emergence of new threats that challenge the balance between the security of the state and the freedom of the individual, it is increasingly coming under attack.

AN INDEPENDENT MIND features eight characters from around the world attempting to exercise their right to freely express themselves. Their stories focus not just on the developing world but also on Western democracies, in an attempt to encourage people to reflect on the importance of freedom of expression with all its attendant complexities, challenges and limits.

NZSA's Chief Executive Maggie Tarver said: 'Freedom of Expression is an important issue - it affects us all at some level in our lives. I never cease to be amazed at the number of cases of suppression of expression that come across my desk every week, and it is important to remember those who put themselves on the line so that the rest of us can ultimately benefit. We hope that this national screening of An Independent Mind will raise the awareness of our campaign and generate more support. The nine free screenings will take place on Saturday 15th November and will be followed by a question and answers session - hopefully generating some interesting debates.'

Rex Bloomstein began his career as a documentary director with the BBC. His films about the Strangeways prison riots won British Academy awards, and he has made a number of films relating to prison life. He has also produced and directed a number of acclaimed historical studies for television, many such as Auschwitz and the Allies and The Longest Hatred exploring Holocaust related topics.

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Schedule of screenings:

Top of the South Branch

Nelson screening:

Saturday November 15th at 7.30pm

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology,

322 Hardy St,


in Lecture Theatre F101.

Auckland Branch

Saturday November 15th at 5pm

Ponsonby Community Centre,

20 Ponsonby Terrace,



Followed by an evening of poetry, politics and music.

Top of the South Branch

Marlborough screening:

Saturday November 15th at 5.30pm

Picton Little Theatre,

Dublin Street


Otago-Southland Branch

Saturday November 15th at 7.30pm

Dunningham Suite,

4th Floor,

Dunedin Public Library,

230 Moray Place


Followed by a panel discussion

Central Districts Branch

Saturday November 15th at 2pm

Hastings Screening

Hastings Central Library,

Warren Street South,


Followed by discussion

Northland Branch

Saturday November 15th at 2pm

APT Building (Old Library),

Rust Ave,


Central Districts Branch

Saturday November 15th at 10.30am

Masterton Screening

Masterton District Council Library,

Queen Street North,


Wellington Branch

Saturday 15th November at 7.30pm

University of Otago Centre

Wellington Stadium


Christchurch Branch

Saturday 15th November 1.30pm

Philip Carter Family Auditorium

Christchurch Art Gallery

Worcester Boulevard & Montreal Street cnr



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