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Letter, The: An American Town and "The Somali Invasion"


Ziad H. Hamzeh


76 minutes

Produced by:
Ziad H. Hamzeh, Bert Brown, Marc Sandler

English and Somali with English subtitles


Winner, Best Documentary - 2004 Boston International Film Festival

Ordering Information
Available for online sale
Available for online sale

In The Letter, director Ziad H. Hamzeh 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.

"The Letter is an especially dramatic work of polemical reportage on racism in America." -Variety

"...A must-have for public, high school and college libraries." --Lidwien Kapteijns, H-Net Book Review

This film is available with a Digital Site License (DSL), which allows colleges, universities, or libraries to encode, locally host, and stream the film to their community on a closed, password-protected system.

Rental Information
This film is available from AFD for public screenings and television broadcast. For information regarding rental rates and formats, please contact [email protected] for institutional/non-theatrical screenings, or [email protected] for theatrical, festival, television, or other bookings.

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