Regarding: Cohen

Regarding: Cohen

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Running time:

72 minutes


Available on DVD

Closed Captioned:


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Available in Canada

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Outspoken and unconventional, Lee Cohen is a high-profile advocate for asylum seekers. For over 20 years, this dedicated Halifax lawyer has been the constant watchdog of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board, an increasingly secretive entity in the wake of 9/11. Cohen continually drags closed-door refugee hearings into the public eye, as he does with the two talked-about cases at the center of this documentary.

Ship worker Vlad Zalipyatskikh swam ashore in Halifax after death threats from his Russian mafia-backed captain. Serbian woman Sanja Pecelj took refuge in a Halifax church rather than face deportation to her native Kosovo. Cohen's tireless efforts on their behalf gain public attention, but the legal battles get harder to win as Canada's immigration policies calcify. Anti-terrorist measures like the Safe Third Country Act have aligned Canada more and more closely with its reactionary neighbour to the south.

As a Jewish child, Cohen learned early the anti-Semitism and xenophobia that can lurk beneath Canada's façade of multiculturalism. He muses that if he were to apply to enter Canada today, he would probably be rejected.

This is a timely look at the plight of refugees and the maverick who defends them. A salute to a lawyer with a passion for social justice, Regarding: Cohen also raises concerns about the steady erosion of democracy.


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