9500 Liberty

Right Leaning Arizona Republic Condemns New Immigration Law

EJ Dionne found this nugget from an Arizona Republic editorial on the new law:

The broad anti-immigrant bill passed by the Legislature this week makes it a crime to be in the country illegally and gives local cops the job of demanding documentation if they have reasonable suspicion someone lacks it.

The need to carry proper ‘papers’ falls squarely on Arizona's Latino population -- including those born and raised in the Grand Canyon State. The bill invites racial profiling and ignores the fact that Latinos are an intrinsic part of Arizona's history and its future. Arizona's senators should know that.

The bill . . . is bringing thundering bad publicity that will echo for years to come. It will lead to lost economic-development opportunities, lost tourism and lost opportunities to expand our trade and commercial ties with Mexico.

As those who have seen the remarkable documentary film, 9500 Liberty, the people of Arizona do have every reason to be concerned about the long term impact to their state.   As this film, which will be premiering in Arizona this weekend (more on that soon), documents, the cost to a local DC county in Virginia of implementing similar statute was economically and culturally devastating.

For those in the Boston area, 9500 Liberty is screening today at the Boston Independent Film Festival.  See it if you can.  It is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.

Of course all this just goes to remind us how important it is that the Federal government acts to fix our broken immigration system.  Soon. 

And to learn more about the growing power of the US Hispanic population, watch or attend our event in DC this Tuesday.


Progress on 3 Important Fronts - Drop Dobbs, Vitter-Bennett, 9500 Liberty

Just wanted to report in, quickly, on progress on three projects NDN is taking a leading role on right now. 

Drop Dobbs - Several weeks ago, along with more than a dozen other groups, NDN helped launched Drop Dobbs, a website and campaign designed to knock Lou Dobbs off CNN.   Tens of thousands have signed our petitions, watched our videos.  And the campaign itself has gotten a lot of notice.  Dobbs himself has addressed the campaign on the air, more groups are signing on, and some new steps will be announced soon.  The NY Times has a major piece by Brian Stelter today which is the most important press story yet generated on the campaign - be sure to check it out, and if you haven't yet please add your name to the petition today.

Defeating Bennett-Vitter - For NDN blog readers you know that we have been long talking about the day Republican leaders would mount a series effort to derail reapportionment and the census by challening the propriety of counting non citizens particularly in the reapportionment process in 2011-2012.  Well that day has come now, with Senators Bennett and Vitter attempting to put an Amendment on to the current Commerce appropriations bill which would add an 11th question to the census next year, in an attempt to get an accurate count of the non-citizens in the United States.  NDN has issued many statements, been up on the Hill, organized two press conferences this week with allied groups and in general helped organize a well orchestrated push back on this irresponsible effort that would undeniably cost the country a great deal of money, threaten the integrity of the census and reapportionment processes and almost certainly be found unconstitutional. 

For more on this important advocacy effort visit here, and also feel free to read some of the press stories this effort has also generated. Be sure to contact your Senator this week and ask them to vote no on Vitter-Bennett (the vote could be as early as Weds). 

9500 Liberty - Our favorite movie, 9500 Liberty received an extraordinary early review this week:

It’s a bitter human irony that we can be at our ugliest when we’re fighting for our most passionate verities, including democracy, freedom and the American dream. And it seems to happen most often in the politics of immigration.

Most of us are good people when we’re sitting around the dinner table. What happens to us as soon as we step up to the public podium?

If there’s one movie that shows the worst -- but also the best -- in that regard, it’s a documentary you’ve probably never heard of. As of now, it's unreleased.

Like many other independently made documentaries, “9500 Liberty” doesn’t have a distributor. That ought to change. So far, it has been on the festival circuit with forthcoming stops at the San Diego Asian Festival (Oct. 27), the San Francisco’s Sundance Kabuki Theater (Oct. 29), and festivals in Virginia, Austin and St. Louis in November.

And it lit up the virtual nation of Youtubia when filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler posted their movie in progress.   In the summer of 2007, Park and Byler took their cameras to Prince William County, Virginia, where an explosive debate was taking place.

In response to the burgeoning influx of Hispanics, the local board of supervisors was considering legislation that would require police officers to stop and question anyone who gave them “probable cause” to suspect was an illegal alien.  The film follows the interaction within the board, out in the community and over the Internet, as the issue attracts increasingly inflamed and widespread debate.

And as we watch events unfold, we can’t help noticing this is all taking place in Manassas, the hallowed battleground site where another racially charged matter divided the political nation.

This postmodern version of civil war may not have the musketry and the spectacular loss of life of its predecessor. But it doesn't lack for absorbing drama. And a memorable cast of characters...

.....Even though the filmmakers’ political sentiments aren’t too hard to identify, there’s something to watch for viewers of any political stripe. “9500 Liberty” is local, yet powerfully American. And not unlike Marshall Curry’s excellent 2002 documentary “Street Fight,” which chronicled the stunning rise to power of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, it shows us politics where the rubber meets the road.

With an uplifting turn of events and some extraordinary acts of conscience, “9500 Liberty” is as dramatically charged as any fiction movie. And ultimately, it’s as powerful a booster of the democratic process as anything Frank Capra ever imprinted into our collective memory.

Those of you in SF this week are lucky - along with several other organizations we are cohosting a screening of 9500 Liberty this Thursday night, October 29th, at Sundance Kabuki.  I hope you will be able to attend, and see what I have called one of the best movies I have ever seen. 



9500 Liberty Opening Night: An Incredible Success

Last night was 9500 Liberty's Opening Night in the D.C. area - at the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival - and the movie was entirely sold out.  It was not only a proud night for Annabel Park and Eric Byler, the filmmakers, but for all who lived through the terrible fight on immigration in Prince William County, and for those of us who are directly or indirectly affected by the anti-immigrant sentiments seen on screen.  As highlighted by Annabel in an interview with News 4, the film shows how, "There was a lot of misinformation - and at times it felt like it was a kind of hysteria." On that note, Eric Byler noted, "The same kind of politicized hysteria is now a national approach to issues like health care and climate change...it mirrors what we saw in Prince William County - in fact many of the same people are involved."  

Click here to check out the News 4 interview with Annabel and Eric prior to the show.

There is no doubt that the film's message speaks to debate that is happening nationally on a slew of issues, and it will resonate with communities all over the country.  If you'd like to see a very comprehensive 45 minute clip of the film and speak with the filmmakers at the next NDN screening, please contact me at: ztapia@ndn.org


9500 Liberty: Film on Immigration Battle Wins Best Documentary at the Charlotte Film Festival

This remarkable film about the debate over immigration reform received duly earned recognition at the Charlotte Film Festival as it won the award for Best Documentary.  NDN has had the pleasure of working with the filmmakers, Annabel Park and Eric Byler, as we hosted screenings for 9500 Liberty in Washington, DC and at Netroots Nation.  Annabel and Eric joined creators like Michael Moore and some other 60 filmmakers who showed 24 films in Charlotte, NC as part of the festival, which included international films.  

The film originated as footage shot by Annabel and Eric documenting the struggle of their own suburban community - Prince William County, VA - to deal with rapidly changing demographics and the issue of immigration at a local level.  Among the hundreds of visitors who viewed the films at the film festival, 9500 drew much attention in part because of the parallels that can be drawn between Charlotte, NC and Prince William; both have undergone dramatic growths in population and shifts in the local demography, both are suburban areas that have seen clashes between those in the community that have been there for decades or centuries and new immigrants (particularly Hispanic immigrants).  

Said Annabel, "The award means a lot to us because [we were competing with] some great films at the festival."  Moreover, the filmmakers were encouraged by how much moviegoers loved the film, "festival organizers and goers were mostly not from a political background, and their positive response indicates that the film is not just for the politically-minded."  Annabel reported, "I could sense the transformation happening in the audience after the screening.  The lessons [on the immigration debate] were very clear to people...Eric, Chris and I are really proud that the film has the potential to change opinions and lives."

We know that 9500 Liberty has the power to reach a wide audience, to inform, and to affect opinion on this issue.  Click here to see a trailer of the film.  You can catch the full-length feature as it officially premieres this Thursday, October 1 at the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, and stay tuned for additional screenings to be hosted by NDN.  


9500 Liberty - A Remarkable Film About Immigration Reform

Over the last few weeks we've been lucky enough to host a few screenings of a powerful new documentary film to be released this fall, 9500 Liberty.  It takes an indepth look at how the debate over immigration has played out in fast-growing and fast-changing Prince William County, Virginia, not far from us here in Washington, DC.  And while it is about immigration and how our nation's people are changing, it is also an extraordinary look at how a community comes together - or sometimes doesn't - to tackle common challenges.

We will be talking about this remarkable film more in the coming months, but for now watch the trailer below, or visit the website to learn more about 9500 Liberty.   And plan on finding time to see it when it comes out this fall.

Home From Netroots Nation

Just got home from Netroots Nation.  It was a very good event this year.   It had very little tension.   Calm.  Workmanlike.  In part a reflection of how this is the first gathering of the netroots since the historic 2008 elections, which rid the country of the force that in many ways brought the netroots to life, the failed conservatism of the early 21st century.  Amazingly 2000 or so people attended, as many as last year.  And Pittsburgh was a wonderful host city, pretty, clean, impressive.

NDN had a strong presence this year.  Not only were we a major sponsor of the event, but we managed a panel on the coming Millenial Age with Mike Hais; offered a screening of the incredible film about immigration, 9500 Liberty; participated on a panel about race, Beck and Dobbs; and I was fortunate enough to address the whole gathering in the moments before President Clinton's remarkable speech on Thursday night (NN has already loaded the Clinton speech up, and you can watch it here). 

A big Saturday night shout out to Raven Brooks and the whole NN team for pulling off another great gathering.  I, like many others, already have NN 2010 in Las Vegas July 22-25 on my calendar.

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