From Staff Reports, Durham Herald-Sun
CHAPEL HILL — The N.C. Council of Churches and documentary filmmaker Charles Thompson have partnered for a statewide series of showings of Thompson’s immigration saga “Brother Towns/Pueblos Hermanos,” during which audiences can watch Thompson’s film and then take part in discussions about immigration.
“Brother Towns/Pueblos Hermanos” will be shown at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Global Education Center Auditorium, 301 Pittsboro St., on the UNC campus.
“Brother Towns/Pueblos Hermanos” tells the story of two towns, Jacaltenango, Guatemala, and Jupiter, Fla., that are linked by immigration, family and work. It traces the path of people who travel thousands of miles from home in the hopes of making a living and being able to send money back to their families. While conducting graduate field research in Jacaltenango, Thompson realized that violence and economics had driven thousands of men and women from the Guatemalan town to Florida. His film captures that as well as the voices of people opposed to undocumented immigrants and those who are advocates for helping migrants, regardless of their documentation status.
“Our country wouldn’t be where it is today without immigrants. In fact, we’re all immigrants, from those who first came to this continent thousands of years ago to those who came yesterday. The question that we hope to address with this film and related discussions is how we can all live together in this complex and globalizing world,” said Thompson, who is director of undergraduate programs at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies.
The N.C. Council of Churches has long been an advocate for immigrants, including efforts on behalf of farmworkers in the state’s fields and, more recently, in the heated debate over undocumented immigrants. The organization established the N.C. Religious Coalition for Justice for Immigrants in 2008.
“Our longstanding faith traditions compel us to recognize the full dignity and humanity in all people,” said Council Program Associate Chris Liu-Beers. “The farmworker who provides our daily bread, the construction worker who puts a roof over our head, the library worker who greets us with a smile — each is a child of God.”
Thompson said he was elated to be working with the council on the project, citing the organization’s history of work on immigration.
“There are no better sources to turn to regarding how to treat our neighbors — not only those we choose, but those we have — than our religious traditions. The Bible, for example, is filled with quotes regarding how to live with immigrants and other people we might not know. This film is called ‘Brother Towns’ in part because it also is about a community that addresses how neighbors of different origins can live together,” he said.
“It is not a religious film, per se, but it will have resonance with many persons of faith,” Thompson said.