The New York City premiere of the film, First to Stand: The Cases and Causes of Irwin Cotler, directed and co-produced by Irene Lilienheim Angelico and Abbey Neidik, follows Irwin Cotler, former Canadian Minister of Justice and the current Canadian Ambassador to Combat Antisemitism, along with his team of activists at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre in Montreal, as they take on the cases and causes of political prisoners and human rights activists against the world’s most repressive regimes. Cotler began fighting for freedom and justice in law school with the landmark case of Russian refusenik Natan Sharansky, and continues to fight for human rights causes today. His clients and causes, featured in the film, cover the globe from Nelson Mandela, who led the resistance to South Africa’s policy of apartheid; to Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, who was awarded the American Jewish Committee’s Moral Courage Award last year; Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to ten years and a thousand lashes for promoting freedom of speech; human rights barrister and Britain’s special envoy on media freedom, Amal Clooney; and several others.

The film will be followed by a talk with Cotler and Brandon Silver, Director of Policy and Projects at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. They will be in conversation with Rick Salomon, a co-founder of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center and a frequent moderator on human rights and related topics.

Irwin Cotler is the International Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, long-time Member of Parliament, and an international human rights lawyer.

Brandon Silver is an international human rights lawyer, and Director of Policy and Projects at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

In this capacity, Brandon serves on the legal teams of prisoners of conscience, representing some of the world’s leading dissidents and statespeople. He has successfully contributed to the release and resettlement in Canada of a number of former political prisoners and state hostages. He also acts on behalf of mass atrocity victims, and is a key figure in the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign and a recognized subject expert in targeted human rights sanctions. Brandon is also sought after for his strategic counsel to democratic governments, parliaments, and major international organizations on rule of law and public policy reforms.

He formerly served in the office of then Liberal Party of Canada Leader and now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and currently acts as Chief Advisor to former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and longtime Parliamentarian Irwin Cotler.

Brandon’s work has been featured in major publications, including TIME magazine, Project Syndicate, the Globe and Mail, Foreign Policy, and the Washington Post, and is a past nominee of the Quebec Literary Awards and winner of the CBC Reader’s Choice Prize. In 2016, the World Economic Forum named him a “Global Shaper,” and in 2022 he was named one of Canada’s “Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers” by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

He is trained in both major world juridical traditions of Common Law and Civil/Continental Law, holding law degrees from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, the Université de Montréal Faculty of Law, and a Masters of Law from UC Berkeley on a scholarship for excellence in Public Law.

Rick Salomon is a Harvard-educated lawyer and CEO as well as a co-founder of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, the 2017 National Museum of the Year, where he continues to sit on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Mr. Salomon is a frequent public speaker and moderator, conducting events on human rights and numerous other timely topics with many venerable institutions in NYC, Washington, and Chicago.

A live recording will not be available.

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