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U.Va. Law Student To Present Award-Winning Documentary On Bosnian War Crimes

February 2, 2001 -- An interest in justice combined with an interest in filmmaking has led a University of Virginia law student to make an award-winning documentary about Bosnian war crimes.

The film, "Mirror to History: Confronting War Crimes in Bosnia," by third-year law student Cristian DeFrancia, was named Best Political Documentary by the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival last July.

There will be a screening of the 52-minute film on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 4:30 p.m. at the University of Virginia Bookstore on the Mezzanine Level. The screening is free and open to the public. A discussion, "Restoring the Moral Fabric in the Former Yugoslavia: The Role of War Crimes Prosecutions," will follow.

DeFrancia’s interest in film runs in the family. Two of his older siblings attended film school. His brother, Tomas DeFrancia, 31, now works as a producer at International Media Group in West Palm Beach, Fla., and his sister, Carath DeFrancia, 33, works as an account executive at Moving Images Post-Production in New York. His brother helped with production of the video.

DeFrancia, of Great Falls, Va., majored in English at Reed College as an undergraduate, but, stimulated by his siblings’ interest in the field, took film classes at night. In 1996, he moved to the East Coast to work as a paralegal in Washington, D.C.

There he volunteered to work on the American Bar Association’s Task Force on War Crimes, helping to draft rules and procedures for ad hoc tribunals that were investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. In 1998, he attended a diplomatic conference in Rome called to discuss the establishment of a Permanent International Criminal Court that would handle war crimes on a permanent basis, rather than depending on ad hoc tribunals. His attendance as a freelance journalist for ComCast Cablevision allowed him to tape the meeting and fueled his interest in creating a video report on humanitarian law.

After his first year in law school, DeFrancia obtained a public service fellowship from the U.Va. School of Law, along with the sponsorship of the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights and the American Bar Association. The summer of 1999, he headed to The Hague, Netherlands, to videotape interviews at the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal while NATO bombed Kosovo. After the bombing stopped in June, he traveled with a friend to Bosnia to see the landscape and tape interviews with political officials and ordinary people who had witnessed atrocities during the war.

This videotape, which attempts to present fairly the three sides of the conflict — Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian -- is the result.

Now in his final year of law school, DeFrancia is considering a career in media law. He has continued his work on the Bosnian conflict, serving as assistant director for the production of "Justice at Work," an educational documentary on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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