14 Pews and The Seventh Art Stand present The Letter: An American Town and the "Somali Invasion"
For the entire month of May, 14 Pews will be joining over 50 cinemas across the U.S. in The Seventh Art Stand, a nationwide screening series presented by cinemas, museums, and community centers in 25 states, as an act of solidarity against Islamophobia. These films highlight many of the issues faced by the Islamic community, as well as the Middle Eastern community in general, and will range from dramas to documentaries to short films.
Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 2004 Boston International Film Festival, The Letter: An American Town and the “Somali Invasion” explores what American news outlets have dubbed the “Somali Invasion of Lewiston, Maine,” an insulated, predominantly white former mill town struggling to maintain its equilibrium in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. A firestorm of controversy erupts when Lewiston, Maine Mayor Larry Raymond sends an open letter to the 1,100 newly-arrived Somali refugees. He informs them that the city’s resources are strained to the limit, and asks them to tell other Somalis not to move to the city – a move interpreted as racism by some, and a rallying cry by white supremacist groups across the United States.
The Letter documents the ensuing cross-current of emotions and events, culminating in an anti-immigrant rally convened by The World Church of the Creator, and a counter demonstration involving nearly 4,000 Lewiston residents supporting ethnic and cultural diversity.