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'Not in Our Town' films engage viewers

On February 27, 2012

   One of the "Not in Our Town" films was screened in the evening for members of the community at Scottsdale Community College on Feb. 8 the audience responded to the speakers with resounding agreement for Mayor Pontieri's views.

   The next film in the "Many Faces of Hate" series will be "The Danish Solution" on Wednesday March 21at 6 p.m. in the Turquoise Room. 

   Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Bill Straus said it best when he addressed a group of high school students at the Peer Links program hosted by the ADL,

   "My biggest complaint with adults is that we don't get along well," he said.

   That has never been truer than when facing immigration issues. Arizona, as a major part of the national conversation about borders becomes a prime location for the ADL to involve the youth in their mission of hate prevention.

   The ADL's program trains upperclassmen to help prevent incoming high school students from falling victim to bigotry. Kimberly Klett, English teacher and sponsor of the ADL's A World of Difference program at Dobson High School said,

   "It's made kids more accepting of each other; it's made them realize ‘Oh, I have something in common with this person that I never realized before.'"

   The students at the workshop were enthuastic and ready to learn. The event speakers included; Patrice O'Neill CEO and executive producer of the Not In Our Town film series and Mayor Paul V. Pontieri star of the featured film "Light in the Darkness."

   After the film was screened O'Neill took a moment to speak about how this film series has affected her,

   "It changed my life..I love making documentary films. It's made me want to make films that start conversations. As a filmmaker I'm really dedicated to that."

   O'Neill spoke about the goal of the film series,

   The "Not in Our Town films are about engaging people. Our stories help engage people in conversation and in building communities. Not in Our Town focuses on people who are responding to hate. People who are standing up before hate happens."

   Mayor Paul V. Pontieri, gave his perspective on immigration,

   "Immigration is a national issue. For mayors and communities it's not about immigration, it's about integration."

   He also spoke to Arizona's specific issues,

   "In Arizona it's a community, region, state, and national issue because your border is a border and how you deal with it has such a definitive effect. I think the biggest thing that we need to do as leaders, whether it's political or educational leaders, is how we frame the conversation. We need to ramp down our rhetoric and ramp up our actions. It's how you do it, not what you say about doing it."

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