UK: Amnesty Edinburgh festival programme with first in series of 'Behind-the-Fringe' comedy vodcasts

Amnesty International announces the launch of its Edinburgh Festival programme today (30 July) with the release of the first in a series of Festival video podcasts (vodcasts) and podcasts. Free to download from www.amnesty.org.uk/scotland today and featuring exclusive interviews, sketches, backstage gossip, clips from The Secret Policeman’s Ball, as well as content from world class comedians performing at Amnesty’s Stand Up For Freedom shows this August, the vodcasts and podcasts promise to deliver a top-notch comedy experience throughout the festival to audiences in Edinburgh and all over the world.

Unveiling this year’s series, the first vodcast features a collaboration with Festival favourite Ed Byrne in "The Secret Lives of Funny People", a short spoof nature documentary about the weird lives and habits of comedians during the festival. In the first episode, an unsuspecting film crew disturbs Ed Byrne in his natural habitat, leading him to attack them on a tiny motorised tractor.

The release of Amnesty’s vodcast today heralds the launch of a comprehensive programme of events across the different festivals at Edinburgh this August. Building on the success of last year’s comedy show and the massive Secret Policeman’s Ball at the Albert Hall, Amnesty is adding an extra show to its Stand Up For Freedom shows in association with The Co-operative Bank at the Assembly Rooms on 15th and 22nd August, featuring Frankie Boyle, Ed Byrne, Stewart Lee, Andrew Maxwell, , Simon Amstell, Phil Nichol, Lucy Porter and other special guests to be announced.

Other highlights include:

  • Every day of the book festival, top authors – including Iain Banks - will read extracts from the work of writers that have been imprisoned, persecuted, exiled or killed to deny them their right to freedom of expression
  • Former Cambodian child solder turned international landmines campaigner Loung Ung gives the Amnesty Lecture on 19 August
  • A powerful photographic exhibition at St Giles Cathedral documents the reality of human trafficking
  • The Protect The Human exhibition in the Assembly Rooms shows some of Amnesty’s best-known supporters from the worlds of comedy, music, and film standing up for human rights
  • An expanded Freedom of Expression Award, in partnership with Big Issue Scotland, rewards the best shows that highlight human rights issues

Amnesty is using the Internet and text messaging as a new way for people to take action for human rights while they’re enjoying the Festival, including a campaign for Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist imprisoned for ten years just for sending an email. Amnesty is asking people to get online to demand his freedom at www.amnesty.org.uk/scotland or text the word 'FREEDOM', plus their name and email address to 64118 to join the ever-growing petition. Amnesty is also making all of the vodcasts available on their youtube channel there are new Stand Up For Freedom groups on social networking sites, and the organisation has its own festival blog.

Amnesty International’s Programme Director in Scotland John Watson said:

“The Festival is all about freedom of expression and so are we - Amnesty is here to tell people about our work to protect free speech around the world.

“We’ve also got some of the funniest people at the Fringe in our shows - standing up for human rights can be as easy as coming to laugh at Ed Byrne and Frankie Boyle, or sending a text to join our petition for Chinese journalist Shi Tao.”

Find out more about all of Amnesty’s activities across this year’s Edinburgh Festivals at www.amnesty.org.uk/scotland Vodcasts and podcasts are available for download through www.amnesty.org.uk/scotland Itunes and other download sites.

Notes to editors

Stand Up For Freedom is sponsored by The Co-operative Bank, providers of the Amnesty Credit Card. By covering the costs of staging the show, this sponsorship ensures that all proceeds from the show go directly to fund Amnesty International’s work on human rights. Since the Amnesty Credit Card’s launch in 1993, cardholders and The Co-operative Bank have raised an incredible £1.75 million for Amnesty.

The Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Policy makes it an obvious partner for Amnesty International. The policy reflects the views of customers about how their money should and should not be invested. The Co-operative Bank supports the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and will not invest in any government or business which fails to uphold basic human rights within its sphere of influence

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