Groundbreaking New Documentary: 9500 Liberty

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I'm very pleased to post the trailer for the upcoming film, 9500 Liberty, on this blog.

I've had the pleasure of running into the directors of the film, Annabel Park and Eric Byler, on several occasions.  I've watched a lot of documentaries on different aspects of migration to the U.S.  Two of my favorite documentaries are De Nadie, and Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary, because they capture the experiences of Central American migrants, so well. 

9500 Liberty is special, though.  It is special for two reasons: (1) the film is born of one of the most impressive pro-migrant web 2.0 experiments I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing and (2) it captures the hyper-local intensity of the culture war that uses the U.S. migration policy debate as a proxy. 
I haven't had a chance to watch the film, yet, but I already know a great deal about it.  This is because Park and Byler made the incredible decision to make this an "interactive documentary."  They uploaded clips to youtube as they were filming the documentary, allowing people to view them and interact with them.  This also allowed these videos to affect the migration politics of Prince William County in real time.  Eric Byler explains the significance of this in an interview with the Washington Post:

"What you normally do is shoot, then edit, then enter film festivals," said Byler, 35, a Gainesville resident. "On that trajectory, people would see this film for the first time next summer. That's a long time to wait. If the movie is meant to create dialogue, why release it after things may have already shifted?"
Nick Miroff - Washington Post (3 November 2007)
Park and Byler embarked upon this new media experiment at the same time that new media had already become an important part of the fight over local migration policy in Prince William County.  Greg Letiecq, whom I have written about, was able to wield massive influence over local politics in part through his use of new media.  Letiecq's rise was chronicled by the Washington Post in an article entitled "Muscling a Website into a Social Movement: Va. Blogger Taps into Illegal-Immigration Ire," written on July 22, 2009.

What I am particularly looking forward to in the film is learning more about "Pr. William's Mothers of Dissension."  Alanna Almeda and Elena Schlossberg were moved to take a stand in opposition to the extremism of Letiecq.  Almeda founded the excellent pro-migrant blog Anti-BVBL, in direct opposition to Letiecq's extremism, and Schlossberg is an active contributor as well.  I read their blog often, and their pro-migrant calm and reasonableness has contrasted Letiecq's anti-migrant extremism in a way that seems to have brought some sanity to the discourse in Prince William County.  The founding of Anti-BVBL is also chronicled in a Washington Post article entitled "Provocative Blog Spawns its Anti-Blog in Pr. William," written on April 4, 2008.

Park and Byler, who used to have just a Youtube channel, have both expressed to me the importance of the founding of Anti-BVBL on the impact of their videos.  The medium of a blog allowed Park and Byler's youtube videos to have a much more focused effect on the community in Prince William County. 

In addition to being an incredible new media experiment, I am looking forward to watching 9500 Liberty for the way it captures intense local nativism.  It really is remarkable to me how some U.S. citizens get worked up over migrants.  Even more remarkable to me are the issues that anger nativists.  It is incredible to me just how angry some people get over having avoid pressing 2 for Spanish.  Or how angry people get when they walk into Home Depot and the person at the checkout counter is speaking Spanish.  9500 Liberty's most viewed videos on Youtube capture this nativism better than most videos I've seen.  Here is one of my favorites:


Anyway, I'm sure I've made my point by now, and I've gone on much longer than I had anticipated.  Bottom line is that this is a film you have to see, and that Park and Byler's work is worth supporting.  The film isn't going to be released until September of 2009 but you can stay up to date through:

  1. the website:
  2. the Youtube channel:
  3. the Facebook group:
  4. Twitter:
Looking forward to seeing the film.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on July 24, 2009 3:57 PM.

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