Community Cinema

Community Cinema, “Welcome To Shelbyville”

Community Cinema, "Welcome To Shelbyville

This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Welcome To Shelbyville," at the Champaign Public Library, May 12, 2011. Jack Brighton from Illinois Public Media moderated the discussion. There were about 25 people in the audience.

Welcome to Shelbyville, is a glimpse of America at a crossroads. In this one small town in the heart of America's Bible Belt, a community grapples with rapidly changing demographics. Just a stone's throw away from Pulaski, Tennessee (the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan), longtime African American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a growing Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Muslim Somali refugees.

Set on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election, the film captures the interaction between these residents as they navigate new waters against the backdrop of a tumultuous year. As the newcomers - mostly of Muslim faith - attempt to make new lives for themselves and their children, leaders in this deeply religious community attempt to guide their congregations through this period of unprecedented change. Through the vibrant and colorful characters of Shelbyville, the film explores immigrant integration and the interplay between race, religion, and identity in this dynamic dialogue. The story is an intimate portrayal of a community's struggle to understand what it means to be American.