2010 Cinereach Award Presented to Human Rights Watch Filmmaker Rebecca Richman Cohen

Contact: Reva Goldberg
[email protected], 212.727.3224 x111


Cohen’s War Don Don takes a complex look at international justice.

NEW YORK, NY (May 20, 2010) – In connection with the 2010 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Cinereach presents its annual Cinereach Award to Rebecca Richman Cohen for her work as Director/Producer of War Don Don. The award, which includes a $5,000 prize, recognizes excellence in artful, vital storytelling.

In the film, Issa Sesay is tried in the “Special Court” of Sierre Leone, accused of committing war crimes during the country’s recent civil war. With unprecedented access to prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims, and, from behind bars, Sesay himself — War Don Don puts international justice on trial, finding that in some cases the past is not just painful, it is also opaque.

War Don Don unravels the complexities of the international justice system, while weaving a gripping and dynamic story,” said Cinereach Creative Director Michael Raisler. “We’re thrilled that the film is part of this year’s program and can’t imagine a more exciting context for audiences to experience it.”

John Biaggi, Director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, adds “It’s rewarding to see these two strong forces in the film world linking up – War Don Don, which is one of the year’s finest documentaries and delivers on many levels, and Cinereach, a vibrant, highly engaged organization.”

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival New York takes place from June 10-24. War Don Don will screen, with Rebecca Richman Cohen in attendance, at the Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center on:

June 12, 2010, 6:45PM *including panel discussion with co-council to Issa Sesay and others
June 13, 2010, 2:00PM
June 16, 2010, 4:00PM


The War Don Don team includes Oscar and Emmy nominated Producer/Editor Francisco Bello, Line Producer Abu-Bakarr Jalloh (of Freetown, Sierra Leone), Executive Producers Jim Butterworth (of Naked Edge Films) and David Menschel (Vital Projects Fund), Co-Producer Daniel Chalfen, Directors of Photography Nadia Hallgren (a 2010 Cinereach Reach Film Fellow) and William Charles Moss (History Detective), among others.

Leading up to its Human Rights Watch Film Festival New York screenings, War Don Don was a selection of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Movies that Matter Festival in The Hague, the London International Documentary Film Festival, and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival London. It premiered, and won the Special Jury Prize, at SXSW 2010, and received the Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing at the Independent Film Festival Boston.

Previous Cinereach Award recipients include 2009’s Back Home Tomorrow by Fabrizio Lazzaretti & Paolo Santolini, and 2008’s Academy Award nominated The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) directed by Ellen Kuras and co-directed by Thavisouk Phrasavath.

About Cinereach
Cinereach is a not-for-profit film foundation and production company that champions vital stories, artfully told. Created by young philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and filmmakers, Cinereach empowers fiction and nonfiction filmmakers from all over the world through three key initiatives: Grants & Awards, The Reach Film Fellowship and Productions. Cinereach has awarded over $3 million to more than 50 films at the intersection of engaging storytelling, visual artistry, and vital subject matter. Recent grantee highlights include A Small Act, a documentary by Jennifer Arnold and Patti Lee, which premiered in at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival; and October Country, a documentary by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, which was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, a Gotham Award and received awards from the 2009 SilverDocs Festival and the Cinema Eye Awards. The Reach Film Fellowship is an annual granting and mentorship program in which four emerging filmmakers produce artful, socially relevant shorts. Cinereach Productions is currently in production on a narrative feature film, Beasts of the Southern Wild (working title), with Court 13. Visit for more on all Cinereach programs.

About War Don Don
Rebecca Richman Cohen’s War Don Don is set in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where the Special Court trial of Issa Sesay (the first international war crimes “hybrid tribunal” created by the UN and Sierra Leone) is unfolding. Prosecutors call Sesay a war criminal, guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. His defenders call him a reluctant fighter who protected civilians and played a crucial role in bringing peace to Sierra Leone. Drawing upon her in-depth experience in both criminal defense and filmmaking, Cohen gives us rare access to prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims, and, from behind bars, Sesay himself. War Don Don puts international justice on trial for the world to see — finding that in some cases the past is not just painful, it is also opaque. War Don Don makes its New York premiere in June at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, where it is receiving the Cinereach Award. The film recently received a Special Jury Award at SXSW and the Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Editing at Independent Film Festival Boston. Visit for more information.

About Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. We work tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep rooted change and fight to bring greater justice and security to people around the world. Through our Human Rights Watch Film Festival we bear witness to human rights violations and create a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. The film festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people. Visit for more information.