Hispanic Happenings:
Movie Night! | By the Rev. Lyda Pierce

Immigration is a political issue that neither major political party can come to a consensus on. It’s an economic issue that relates to different ways of understanding and calculating taxes, labor supply, social services, new business creation, and consumer spending. It’s an identity issue we struggle with as we try to understand who we are in any given neighborhood, city, or nation. It’s a global issue involving the history of national boundaries, national identities, and economic, criminal and political relationships between countries.

Yet, most of all, immigration is a human story, as old as Adam and Eve moving out of the Garden of Eden, or Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt with Jesus to avoid the death squads.

What if the people in our church who think differently about the politics of immigration could sit calmly together prayerfully listen to one another’s stories and feelings? What if new immigrants and long-time residents could come through the church’s open doors, sit together and listen to each other for just a few moments?

What if six months ago Wade Michael Page and a few people from the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin had learned each other’s names, shared some popcorn, and watched a movie together? Would our communities be different? Would history be different? Would God’s beloved community, God’s Kin-dom, be more visible in our midst?

I enthusiastically invite every church in our Conference to hold one gathering focused on prayerful and respectful listening to stories of immigration. And, to make it easy, let’s call it MOVIE NIGHT!

Pick a movie that tells other people’s stories. Set up a safe place of loving respect. Watch. Listen to reactions from each another. Share some bread or fruit. OK, share some popcorn. Pray.

Immigration Movie Night Resources/Ideas
Below are some ideas for movies and videos. If you would like other support such as a someone to participate in the conversation or assistance in developing a climate of safe, holy conversation, please contact Lyda Pierce: lydapierce@earthlink.net.

Available on YouTube:
“Jasmine’s Story”
“Jasmine’s Story” is a video prepared by United Methodist Communications Re-Think Church. It is the story of one Guatemalan-American teenager left alone in the US because of immigration policies and a United Methodist Church’s ministry with her. A movie night preparation and discussion guide is available on the PNW Web site.

“Immigration through Ellis Island”
An award-winning video telling an earlier history of immigration to the United States.

Available from the Regional Media Center (PNW Office):
“Arizona: State of Fear”
“Arizona: State of Fear” is a documentary about immigrants in Arizona which includes conversation with United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño.

“Lives for Sale”
“Lives” is a documentary on immigration and human trafficking with specific stories recounted.

“Which Way Home?”
“Home” is the story of children and teenagers immigrating to the US from Central America by riding on trains through Mexico. “Home” is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Contact Regional Media Center Manager Ellen Johanson at ejohanson@pnwumc.org for access to these titles.

Documentaries available through the Internet:
“Lost in Detention”
“Lost” is a PBS Frontline report on private detention centers for immigrants.

“Divided We Fall”
“Divided We Fall” is a documentary film made by a young American woman of the Sikh faith who travels across the United States after September 11, 2011 to try to understand hate crimes and what it is to be American. This has to be purchased.

Commercially Available:
There are a wide variety of commercially available movies that relate to immigration. A concern here is obtaining the appropriate license to show them to a group. Ellen Johanson, Regional Media Center at the PNW Conference Office, is available to answer questions about getting the right permission to use one of these movies. Here are just two of many options.

“The Visitor”
“Visitor” tells the story of a surprise encounter and relationship between a grieving professor and two young immigrants.

“The Kite Runner”
“Kite Runner” follows the lives of a family fleeing war in their home country.

Lyda Pierce serves as the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministries (GBGM).
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This article was originally featured in Channels 56, September 2012. Download this issue, here

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