Curse Ridley Scott for unwittingly inflaming race relations in Lewiston, Maine. His 2001 Black Hawk Down inspired the more jingoistic members of the depressed mill town (riled by the death of a young local in Mogadishu) to focus their formerly indiscriminate xenophobia on one immigrant community: 1,100 Somali refugees newly arrived to the wintry, predominantly white city. The titular missive of Ziad Hamzeh’s impassioned documentary, authored by Lewiston’s mayor, asked Somali to discourage relatives from joining them in their adopted home—a transparently racist plea that drew white-supremacist groups to Maine and galvanized the larger, welcoming community against the hatemongering horde.
Coming to an American studies department near you—which is no slight to its affecting, straightforward presentation of tightly knit, contrapuntal interviews and crosscut rally footage—Hamzeh’s film eschews voice-over to allow the more despicable characters to embarrass themselves with their ludicrously foolish invective. White supremacists are never funny until they reveal The O’Reilly Factor as their source for unbiased information.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 1, 2005