Welcome to Shelbyville focuses on community relations in a small Tennessee town and will air nationwide on the PBS Series "Independent Lens" on May 24, 2011
Welcoming America affiliates, community groups and city officials across the country, are using local screenings as a catalyst to initiate new dialogues around immigration
WASHINGTON, May 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a time when many U.S. cities and towns are exploding with tension around immigration related issues, Welcome to Shelbyville, a new documentary about how residents in a small Tennessee town have worked to understand, challenge, and accept new immigrants in their community, will air nationwide on the Emmy Award-winning PBS Series Independent Lens on May 24, 2011. Featured prominently in the film are the efforts of the Tennessee affiliate of the new nonprofit Welcoming America, a national organization whose focus is now on replicating this template for success in cities and towns across the country.
Set against the backdrop of a shaky economy during the 2008 Presidential election, Welcome to Shelbyville takes an intimate look at a southern town as its residents – comprised of Whites, African-Americans, Latinos and Somalis – grapple with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life. The film focuses on the work of Welcoming Tennessee, an affiliate of Welcoming America, as its local partners in Shelbyville, TN, struggle to build a more welcoming community in their town amid growing hostilities.
The film Welcome to Shelbyville was directed and produced by Kim A. Snyder and executive produced by BeCause Foundation in association with Active Voice. It is a recipient of a 2010 Gucci-Tribeca Documentary Fund grant and an official selection of the U.S. State Department's 2010 American Documentary Showcase.
"My own perspective is simply that immigrant integration is not always easy, and that a more nuanced national dialogue needs to be taking place, perhaps taking cues from folks like the ones in Shelbyville with less of an eye on political correctness and with no particular political agenda other than that of living more harmoniously with their neighbors," said director and producer Kim A. Snyder, who spent over a year filming the documentary in Shelbyville, Tennessee.
In the weeks leading up to the PBS premiere, Kim A. Snyder and Welcoming America have been meeting with affiliate groups and city officials across the country and participating in a series of film screenings and panel discussions highlighting the significance of the film as a tool for meaningful social change, as well as the efforts of the group to replicate the success of Shelbyville in 14 other states.
"The film is a powerful portrayal of the impact that immigration is currently having on our neighborhoods and communities," stated David Lubell, Executive Director, Welcoming America. "In the midst of increasingly heated rhetoric around this issue, it is a shining example of how Americans can unite to ensure that the newest members of our communities are fully incorporated into the very fabric of our society. As we see it, working together benefits everyone, both new and old alike."
Welcoming America is organized around the principal that Americans are empathetic and compassionate people, and that this compassion is often clouded by the country's increasingly divisive immigration debate. By uniting local leaders across sectors and sharing the stories of residents of all backgrounds, the Welcoming America model is working to reduce fear of immigration and promote acceptance in communities across the country.
Welcoming America is a national, grassroots-driven collaborative that works to promote mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans. www.welcomingamerica.org.
Kim A. Snyder is an award-winning filmmaker whose most recent film, Welcome to Shelbyville, is recipient of a Gucci-Tribeca Documentary Fund grant, a selection of the U.S. State Department's 2010 American Documentary Showcase, and will air on PBS's Independent Lens in early 2011. For more information on Welcome to Shelbyville, visit www.pbs.org/welcome-to-shelbyville.
BeCause Foundation ignites social change through the powerful fusion of documentary filmmaking and creative outreach and engagement projects. www.becausefoundation.org
Active Voice uses film, television and multimedia to put a human face on the issues of our times. www.activevoice.net
SOURCE Welcoming America