in theaters - The Letter - main
Premiering at AFI FEST 2003, The Letter was written and directed by Ziad H.
Hamzeh (Shadow Glories), and produced by Hamzeh, Bert Brown and Marc Sandler.
The film chronicles the turmoil economically struggling and overwhelmingly
white Lewiston, Maine faced when 1,100 former Somali refugees relocated there
en-masse in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy - referred to at the time as the
"Somali invasion" by the international news media.
Passions were enflamed when Lewiston's then mayor, Larry Raymond, wrote an open
letter to the Somali community asking them to tell friends and family not to
move into the city. The ensuing controversy pitted anti-immigration white
supremacist groups against local community activists supporting the Somalis,
culminating in simultaneous competing rallies that necessitated the largest
police action in Maine's history to ensure the safety of the city's residents.
In addition to its AFI FEST 2003 debut, The Letter won the International Spirit
Award for Best Documentary at the 2004 Boston International Film Festival, was
nominated for Best Documentary at the 2004 Pan-African Film Festival, and was
selected to open the 2004 Amnesty International Film Festival in Pittsburgh.