Inside Toronto's The Guest List Chats With Director Paul Saltzman About Upcoming CFHU Morgan Freeman Evening

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Paul SaltzmanApril 10, 2013 - Two-time Emmy Award-winner and Toronto-based film and television producer-director Paul Saltzman is full of interesting tales to tell, having photographed The Beatles, produced a Leonard Cohen concert tour and having learned meditation at an ashram, a place of religious retreat, in India.

Two of his passions, filmmaking and civil rights work, together led him to his feature-film directorial debut with the documentary Prom Night in Mississippi with Morgan Freeman, and his second feature documentary The Last White Knight, featuring Delay la Beckwith, Jr., Harry Belafonte and Freeman, as well as several dramatic feature films and television series.

In 2011, with Patricia Aquino, he founded the non-profit, Moving Beyond Prejudice, to work with students, youth-at-risk and community groups utilizing Prom Night in Mississippi. In December 2011, Saltzman was invited to the White House to screen the movie and hold a Moving Beyond Prejudice discussion with the audience. While there, he was honoured, as a community leader, at a reception with President Barack Obama and the First Lady.

Now, Saltzman is gearing up to moderate a Q-and-A with Academy Award-winner Freeman when the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CFHU) honours Freeman with The Key of Knowledge Award for his dedication to combating racism and promoting knowledge and education worldwide.

The award will be given at A Celebration of Excellence, an event honouring individuals who have changed the world and impacted lives through the advancement of knowledge Monday, May 6 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. For more information and tickets, visit cfhu.org

What does moderating the Q-and-A with Morgan Freeman mean to you?
Morgan Freeman is a lovely person. On a personal level, he is remarkably humble, well-read and very bright with a highly developed social conscience. He’s passionate about supporting education with scholarships and grants to schools to assist them in many ways; and passionate about encouraging young people to stay in school to finish their education. Doing the Q-and-A with Morgan, especially in the context of his receiving The Key of Knowledge Award from the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is not only an honour for me, but will be great fun.

What do you hope guests take away from this event?
Of course, I hope our guests have a very fun evening, which I’m sure they will. And that they come away with an increased admiration for the excellent work The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is doing in the world of education. I think they will also come away with admiration for the ongoing and focused support the Canadian Friends of the University manifest throughout the year, supporting exchanges, visits to the university and raising funds for the university’s many international programs.

Your last documentary, The Last White Night, came out in 2012. What’s next for you?
I have two dramatic feature films ready for production. They’re both amazing, true stories that I optioned some years back and have worked with excellent writers resulting in exciting scripts. We are now looking for financing and talking to potential leading cast members.

You have a storied history of civil rights work. How has this work affected your life?
My mother and father’s main ethical teaching for my brother and myself was to “do unto others as you’d have them to unto you.” Going to Mississippi, in 1965, to do voter registration work with SNCC (the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) was life-changing. It set me on a path of writing and filmmaking - both documentaries and dramas - that are both entertaining and encouraging of human and responsible ethics.

Tell us about Moving Beyond Prejudice.
Underlying almost all incidents of bullying and violence is prejudice. Moving Beyond Prejudice is the non-profit we’ve started to work with all ages, but particularly young people, including youth-at-risk, in using very practical tools to begin moving beyond prejudice. We’ve worked with over 30,000 people, in person, across Canada and the U.S. with surprising results.

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CFHU is dedicated to supporting IMRIC through direct funding and by developing key collaborative medical research partnerships between Canada
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