Born ThorLeonardo Halvorssen Mendoza, but going simply by Thor Halvorssen, entered the world in 1976. He hails from Venezuela, a country in turmoil that influenced him at a young age and drove him to become the strong human rights advocate he is today.
Halvorssen is a film producer, founder of the Oslo Freedom Forum, the Patron of On Own Feet, Founder of the Ming Picture Institute, and president of the Human Rights Foundation. Halvorssen also contributes to numerous written publications to help spread his message of human rights and the fight he is waging for them around the world.
Halvorssen saw his father, Thor Halvorssen Hellum, go from a well respected employee of the Venezuelan government under the administration of Carlos Andres Perez, to a tortured and imprisoned man on false charges claiming terrorism due to investigating the Medellin Cartel. Halvorssen led the charge along with help from Amnesty International to get his farther released from prison. Nearly a decade later, Halvorssen once again witnessed the unfair evils imposed on people living under an unfair rule when his mother was shot while peacefully protesting against of the 2004 recall referendum in Venezuela. She lived, but Halvorssen was quick to spread the word through print and a video of the incident that showed the Venezuelan government security firing into the crowd of peaceful protesters.
Armed with personal experience and knowledge, Halvorssen created the Human Rights Foundation. He used it as a platform to spread help and awareness internationally about the many violations that happen everyday. He lobbied to have Liu Xiaobo, a political prisoner locked up in China, released in 2010, frequently speaks out against Uganda president Yoweri Museveni and the country’s efforts to punish homosexuality by death, and has spoken out against numerous American Lawmakers including Republican Jack Kemp and Democrats John Conyers and Jose Serrano.
Halvorssen has also used the gift of film to help spread awareness and his message. He co-produced “Freedom’s Fury”, a film about the uprising against Hungary’s dictatorship in 1956,as well as the films “Hammer & Tickle”, “Indoctrinate U”, and “The Singing Revolution”.
Along with his many achievements and battles, Halvorssen has received numerous recognitions. His list of awards include the Sol Feinstone Award from University of Pennsylvania for protecting Student Speech, and a presidential silver medal from the 2010 Romanian leader to commemorate the anniversary of the Romanian Revolution and recognize the work Halvorssen has done to fight for freedoms.