The Letter: An American Town and the 'Somali Invasion' (2005)
This documentary explores the complicated story behind the divided town of Lewiston, ME. Once, Lewiston's 97 percent Caucasian population made it a uniformly white berg in the whitest state in America, while its profitable textile mill made the hamlet a model of the American dream. Half a century later, however, factory closings and an imploded industrial economy have left residents scratching for pennies and sourly resentful of the government-assisted "free ride" bestowed upon the 1,100 Somalis who have come seeking sanctuary. Being both black and Muslim in a post-9-11 society only aggravates the fearful tension. When the mayor publishes an open letter asking refugees to stop moving to Lewiston, with the media and the Klan's help, all hell breaks loose. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Letter: An American Town and the 'Somali Invasion'
Undeniably strong, The Letter is at times misleading and confusing, possessing the raw materials for a much more coherent and potent film.
A carefully wrought, historically grounded and thoroughly absorbing look at a quintessential American experience.
As helpful as it is to realize that white supremacists are as loony in Maine as they are in Idaho or Florida, The Letter is too confused and confusing to make anything more than the most simplistic points.
By allowing a range of residents' opinions to drive the narrative forward and ending on a positive note, [Hamzeh] made a film that won a standing ovation at its Lewiston premiere in January.
A powerful and timely portrait of the tensions that can be generated by immigration situations, especially in a post-Sept. 11 world.
Were it simply a case of truth being stranger than fiction, Syrian-born filmmaker Ziad Hamzeh's America-set doc (which played New York last month) would sport one of the year's most thrilling plots.
A true story with an 'inciting incident' that resonates with significance about race, culture, community, and the world itself.
Allows slavering bigots and slicker-tongued hypocrites alike to speak for themselves, thus exposing the essential interdependence of over-the-counter racism and its institutionalized, more soundbite-savvy variation.
A frustrating lack of details compromise this much-needed look at how the promise of American diversity failed a community of Somali refugees in a large Maine town.
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