One Chicago, One Nation Winning Films Are “Elevating the Level of Pluralism”

June 22, 2010

At Streets 2010: Urban International Festival, the winners of One Chicago, One Nation’s film contest were announced. The grand-prize winner, “1700% Project: Mistaken for Muslim” is a sobering commentary on anti-Muslim hate crimes committed around the country after 9/11. The text, a poem created from filed police reports and citations, is stark: “Awoke to find / A South Asian American, Sikh / Chased by a group of four men yelling, ‘Terrorist’ / Sikh mistaken for Muslim.”

“1700% Project: Mistaken for Muslim”

James Warren at the Chicago News Cooperative, writes: It’s the five-minute effort of both Anida Yoeu Ali, a Cambodian Muslim performance artist who came to Chicago when she was 5, and Masahiro Sugana, her video producer-husband, who as a teenager came here from Japan. The video features a fictional poet, dancer, angel and prisoner speaking out against anti-Muslim hate crimes by repeating the jarring essence of incidents around the country. Freeway signs declaring, “Kill All Muslims.” Assaults on South Asian Sikhs, Egyptians, Spaniards and bagel store owners mistaken for Muslims. Citations of nasty incidents in suburban Bridgeview and Collingswood, N.J. A man pushing a stroller past a mosque and yelling, “You Islam mosquitoes should be killed.” There are more. The “1700%” alludes to a national increase in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate crimes after the Sept. 11 attacks. The video is unsparing and short of uplifting, but effectively unsettling, concluding with spare words across the screen: “Look at what you’ve done … because we refuse to end the violence.” The videos are the next stage in a Chicago experiment — One Chicago, One Nation — to create greater understanding of a Muslim population estimated as high as 6 million in the United States, with the largest number, perhaps 400,000, in the metro area. The endeavor is backed financially by George F. Russell Jr. of Tacoma, Wash., founder of a billion-dollar investment-services firm best known for the Russell 2000 stock index. Mr. Russell was moved by the events of Sept. 11 and joined in a worthy effort by the Chicago Community Trust, San Francisco-based Link TV and two other Chicago groups, the Interfaith Youth Core and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network. Mayor Richard M. Daley was at Saturday’s announcement by the groups of 100 “community ambassadors” to lead gatherings in various forums and help oversee $200,000 from Mr. Russell to spur interfaith cooperation. Click here to watch the winning films. Click here to read the full article.

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