WATERVILLE – The film “The Letter,” which chronicles the reaction when 1,100 former Somali refugees relocated to Lewiston, will be shown at the seventh annual Maine International Film Festival scheduled July 9 to 18.

Throughout the 10-day festival, nearly 100 American independent and international films will be shown. In addition, some of Maine’s and New England’s innovative filmmakers will be spotlighted. Films will be shown at two venues: the Railroad Square Cinema and the Waterville Opera House.

“The Letter” is a feature-length documentary written and directed by Syrian-born Ziad Hamzeh. It looks at the dynamics of immigration many cities and countries worldwide now confront in this post 9/11 era.

Its title refers to a letter then-Lewiston Mayor Larry Raymond wrote to elders of the Somali community in October 2002 in an effort to slow immigration to the city. The film follows subsequent events, including two rallies in Lewiston on Jan. 11, 2003, one a small rally by racists and the other a rally for peace and unity organized by the Many and One Coalition that filled the Bates College gym with many other supporters outside.

“The Letter” premiered at AFI Fest 2003, the film festival of the American Film Institute; was nominated for best documentary at the Pan-African Film Festival; was the opening night film at the Amnesty International Film Festival; and ranked fifth out of 130 films in audience voting at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival.

Showtimes for “The Letter” at Railroad Square Cinema, 17 Railroad Square, are 5 p.m. Saturday, July 10; at 9:15 p.m. Monday, July 12; and at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 18.

For more on “The Letter,” go to www.hamzehmystique-films.com/theletter.

Another film shot in Maine, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” also will be featured at the festival. It’s a quirky comedy that was shot in Bridgton and the Belgrade Lakes area. It will premiere at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 11, and show again at 7 p.m. Friday, July 16.

For showing and ticket info, go online to www.MIFF.org; or call 873-4021.


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