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“Is This Alabama?” Videos Strike a Chord, Evoke Responses from Bloggers

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chris weitzYesterday, we wrote about the premiere of Chris Weitz’s “Is this Alabama?” film series, a collection of four short videos documenting life under Alabama’s HB 56 immigration law.  Bloggers, commentators, and activists have been quick to share the films, post their thoughts on them, and discuss which video so far has had the most effect on them.

“The two faces of Alabama,” Digby wrote at Hullaballoo, referencing one video which contrasts a drunken HB 56 supporter with a sympathetic schoolteacher who has had to watch some of her immigrant students leave, “is actually the two faces of America.”

Firedoglake’s David Dayen notes that Weitz “has now trained his camera on Alabama and the fallout in that state from HB 56, the draconian immigration measures that have led to mass chaos.” He aslo noted: 

The effective films tell the human story of a law that has caused such an upheaval in Alabama that even Republican lawmakers, including the Governor, have acknowledged the need to change it. But Weitz and the Is This Alabama coalition want the law to be fully repealed.

Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress found that her favorite video was “Not the Kind of Alabama I Want,” in which a small business farmer talks about his close ties with an immigrant who works on his farm.  As she wrote:

The whole campaign is doing a very good job of showing the harm that restrictive immigration laws cause to non-immigrants, whether they’re older white men who are close friends with undocumented families or black Alabamans who see hatred of immigrants as part of the unfulfilled promise of the Civil Rights movement. So-called special interests have such wider reach than we often acknowledge.

Using story-telling talent to get across the breadth of the devastation in Alabama is a good tactic for progressive activists. Hopefully this will be a beginning and not an anomaly.

The “Is this Alabama?” project overall was well-received, with Mary Orndorff at the Birmingham News saying that “Collectively, they show Alabama as a place with a bitter past and lingering bigotry, colliding with attitudes of compassion, sympathy and religiosity.”

Much of the coverage traced Chris Weitz’s improbable path from directing Hollywood blockbusters like “Twilight: New Moon” to directing the surprise independent hit “A Better Life”—the project which directly led to the “Is this Alabama?” series.

“I found having made ‘A Better Life’ that I couldn’t walk away from this. The more I knew about the subject [of immigration], the harder it was to turn my back on it. I think I’m in this for the long haul now,” Weitz told The Guardian.  As he was compiling the films, he said, he was surprised by the enmity of HB 56 supporters in Alabama.  “I was shocked by the cold-heartedness of people who are avowedly Christian. Their unwillingness to turn the other cheek.”