Celebrity Panel Disscussion on Freedom from Despair Garners Praise
from Crongressman Kucinich and Amnesty International


Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Actors John Savage, Beata Pozniak and Writer Michael McAdams

Joined Director Brenda Brkusic on Post-Screening Panel

Los Angeles, Apr. 24: Brenda Brkusicís debut film, FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR, premiered at the Artivist Film Festival on April 23, 2005. The screening of this moving film was followed by statements from Amnesty Internationalís Bonnie Abaunza. A spirited Human Rights Forum with Congressman Dennis Kucinich, actors John Savage and Beata Pozniak, director Brenda Brkusic, and writer Michael McAdams participating, followed the enthusiastically received screening. Many local activists, Kucinich supporters, filmmakers and reporters attended the screening and panel, and asked questions when the panel discussion was opened to the floor.

Bonnie Abaunza, President of Artists for Amnesty International gave opening remarks at the event discussing Amnesty Internationalís support of Freedom from Despair. She said: "Brenda Brkusicís documentary is an example of sublime filmmaking that poignantly tells the story of one brave man and translates his experience into powerful and compelling statements about the human spirit, political agendas, and global responsibility. The participation of such talented and well respected actors as Michael York, John Savage and Beata Pozniak will help the film reach a more mainstream audience. When Freedom from Despair premiered at Amnesty Internationalís Human Rights Film Festival last year, the moving reactions of the audience in the packed screening room was a testament to the power of this documentary. I believe that those who see it will understand the tragedy that engulfed Croatia and the hope that exists today. Amnesty International commends Brenda for this filmic achievement and we hope that she continues to bring socially conscious films to the attention of audiences around the world."

Congressman Dennis Kucinich who flew to Los Angeles just for the screening, was moved to tears during the film and congratulated Brenda during the panel: He remarked: "As I was watching this I was reminded of some words from a poem by Wordsworth where he talks about feelings that almost were too deep for tears. Thatís why this work by Brenda is so important because it really reflects a broader human experience of war itself and the genesis of war, the idea of the inevitability of war. We really need to challenge that thinking which produces war. Your work gets into the thinking and the ideology of war, the violation of human rights which precedes war. You told the story in depth that needed to be told about the suffering of the Croatian people. We can never excuse violence of any kind, but I think when you see the human experience that has occurred here, itís so profound when we start to realize the tragedy, the human tragedy on such a scale that effects so many people that it leaves an indelible imprint on people, makes it very hard to let go of the war, but you did this! The thing that is so powerful here, you really did this without any hatred. There was no hatred here. This was not a propaganda film. Anybody who would try to label it that didnít see it! Because you did it without any bitterness, without any hatred and you did it, in a sense, the escape from despair here is really a celebration of the human spirit, thatís why it is so powerful. I mean really, she deserves so much credit for making this film." The Congressman also spoke about issues surrounding the film including the problem of landmine manufacturing in the US and the need for a US Department of Peace. Michael McAdams, Author of Croatia: Myth and Reality, traveled from Sacramento to participate on the panel and was called upon by audience members to further elaborate on topics brought up in the film.

Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the New York International Independent Film Festival, the Viewerís Voice Award at the Cinequest Film Festival and the Golden Reel Award at the Tiburon International Film Festival, FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR is a riveting, feature-length documentary that introduces us to a 20th Century freedom fighter Ė who happens to be Brkusicís father.

Having risked his life escaping on foot to Italy from the tyranny of Communist Yugoslavia in 1957, Kruno Brkusic made his way to America to make his dream of a free life a reality. However, almost forty years later, as he sees his homeland ravaged by war during the dissolution of Yugoslavia, he raises his voice to defend his people. His courageous journey takes him from street demonstrations to the bastions of mainstream media and to the halls of Congress, to challenge a President and alert the world to the massacre allowed to take place while the world looked the other way; and America, his adopted land of freedom, supported the tyranny of two of the worldís bloodiest dictators, Josip Broz Tito and Slobodan Milosevic. The Croatian people could have no better champion. In this celebration of culture, democracy, and the strength of the human spirit, we see Kruno Brkusicís work help heal a nation, with courage, faith, and an overwhelming desire to fight for FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR

With stirring archival footage, narrative recreations, moving interviews, narration by actor John Savage (DARK ANGEL, THE DEER HUNTER), voice-overs by Michael York (AUSTIN POWERS, CABARET) and Beata Pozniak (JAG, Oliver Stoneís JFK), and music by Nenad Bach, Brenda Brkusic has made a film that has won awards at many film festivals as it touches and inspire audiences everywhere it plays.