Human rights activist Thor Halvorssen sat in the upper areas of the Christiana Theater in Oslo, Norway, listening in on a phone call. He was Chen Guangcheng and his wife, Yuan Weijing. Guangcheng was exiled Chinese dissident. He had been arrested following a peaceful demonstration against financial crimes committed against himself, his family, and others.
Guangcheng was talking about actor Christian Bale, who accompanied CNN reporters on a trip to China several years before. The actor and the camera crew went to beg the government’s forgiveness and barter for Guangcheng ‘s release. Bale and the CNN crew were harassed, assaulted, and stalked as they fled the area.
Mr Halvorssen is the founder of the Human Rights Foundation, an organization that works to educate about international human rights. The organization meets annually at the Oslo Freedom Forum where people share their stories and work together to find solutions to the world’s humanitarian crisis.
Halvorssen was never a stranger to the world’s humanitarian crisis. He was born in Venezuela and is of Norwegian and Venezuelan descent. Halvorssen’s father was arrested in the early 1990s. He was held for 70 days, beaten, and tortured. He was later found not guilty on charges of money laundering and terrorism. Halvorssen’s mother was also an activist. She attended the 2004 Venezuelan recall referendum where she was shot by government security agents. She survived. Click here to watch video.
Halvorssen’s passion and energy have been noted by his colleagues.
“I tell people that he is a force of nature,” said Berlin-based journalist Jamie Kirchick.
“He is very driven and energetic,” said Jacob Mchangama, a German activist. “His foundation has helped me to accomplish things that I could not have done on my own.”
Despite his high energy levels and good nature, Halvorssen has stated that he has no interest in being the face for the cause.
“I hate the idea of being the face of the organization,” Halvorssen said. “I like the idea of people focusing on the problem at hand, not the idea of ‘The Thor Show.'”
Whether it is through his own work as a film producer or through his Moving Picture Institute, Thor Halvorssen is always looking for the best ways of using his own interest in film to push forward the human rights issues he holds so dear. The first mark Thor Halvorssen made in the human rights activist community was with a protest against the Lucent Technologies company who were suspected of using Chinese slave labor in the manufacturing of their products; Halvorssen led a sit-in at a shareholders meeting in 1999 and began an activism story that has been shown in his film work.
One of the major areas Thor has sought success is through his work with the Moving Picture Institute that has proven a major film production success since it was established as a tax-exempt charitable group in 2005. As one of the founders of the Moving Picture Institute, Thor Halvorssen must take some of the credit for the success that has been achieved in funding movies with a pro-freedom agenda, and in finding new ways of making sure as many young people as possible enter the film industry in a safe and secure manner.
Thor Halvorssen himself has seen the films he has produced make waves at film festivals and award shows around the world, including the reported 15-minute ovation at the 2006 Balck Nights Film Festival given to his production about the Estonian peaceful uprising against Communist rule, “The Singing Revolution“. An active member of the Moving Picture Institute, Thor has seen the films backed by the charitable group nominated for many major awards in both fiction and documentary categories, including an Oscar nomination as the Institute continues to publicize stories that promote the need for freedom in every society around the world.
Thor Halvorssen was born 40 years ago to a Venezuelan family. His parents were from the royal family as his mother descended from the first president of Venezuela. On the other hand, his father descended from a Norwegian king. The two parents taught him to observe human rights, and since then, this belief remains unchanged. Today, things have changed, and Thor no longer lives in Venezuela. He lives in the United States after unveiling corruption deals in his native Venezuela. This whistleblowing came at a cost for him. His father was jailed and tortured; his mom killed while his first cousin is still being held in prison in Venezuela.
Other than a renowned human right activist, Thor Halverson is a filmmaker. In regards to matters of the film, he is the founder of the famous Moving Picture Institute. His latest works concerning the film industry include the film the Moon is a Harsh Mistress. He is producing this film in collaboration with Bryan Singer. Thor Halvorssen is famous for establishing the Human Rights Foundation as well as the Oslo Freedom Forum. His opinions have featured on several media outlets such as the New York Times, National Journal, the Washington Post as well as the Wall Street Journal. He has also on several occasions appeared on various television outlets to explain his opinions. He has appeared in Al-Jazeera, the Fox News and finally the BBC news. His work has received the praise of several print outlets including the New York Times.
Among the various issues that Thor Halvorssen stands against including human trafficking, threats to democracy particularly those in Latin America and finally slavery. He also lectures on the same topics at various institution such as the Harvard Law School, the American Enterprise Institute and finally the New York City Junto.
During his time with the Human Rights Foundation, Thor Halvorssen has worked with some of the best human right activists of all times. This includes the like of Garry Kasparov, Vaclav Havel as well as Vladimir Bukovsky. Thor Halvorssen has openly opposed Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan dictator for openly discriminating gays in the country.