An American Town and
the ìSomali Invasionî
Ziad H. Hamzeh, 2003
Nonfiction filmmaking holds a strong appeal for many committed directors and producers. This ongoing series lets you sample wide-ranging approaches to the contemporary documentary.
An impassioned documentary by Syrian-American filmmaker Ziad Hamzeh, The Letter chronicles the controversy that gripped Lewiston, Maine, in 2002, surrounding the 1100 Somali refugees living there.
Before the film, join us for a free communinity reception in the Wexner Center Café. Stay after the film for a panel discussion with community leaders.
It started when the town's mayor published an open letter discouraging the refugees from inviting other Somalis to join them in the economically ailing community (with a 97% white population). When the letter received national attention and was denounced for its thinly veiled racism, a firestorm of divergent opinion erupted. Neo-Nazi and KKK-affiliated groups organized rallies in Lewiston, and their supporters came face to face with crowds defending cultural diversity and tolerance.
The Letter raises timely questions about anti-Muslim sentiment, institutionalized prejudice, and the nation's immigrant heritage, all of relevance locally in view of Columbus's large and vibrant Somali population. (76 mins.)
The free communinity reception before the film features a Somali dinner buffet catered by African Paradise Restaurant, from 6 to 7 pm in the Wexner Center Café.
Panelists for the postscreeening discussion are Beth Gerber, Liibaan Ismail, Tariq Mohamed, Hasan Omar, Abdi Robie, and Jane Whyde.
Season support provided by the Rohauer Collection Foundation and the Corporate Annual Fund of the Wexner Center Foundation.
Contemporary films, international films, and visiting filmmakers presented with support from the Ohio Arts Council.
In-kind support for this event provided by African Paradise Restaurant.