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AETN, Faulkner County Library host free advance screening of 'Welcome to Shelbyville'

Posted 04 May 2011

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) and the Faulkner County Library invite the public to a free screening of “Welcome to Shelbyville” as part of Community Cinema Tuesday, May 17, at 6 p.m. at the Faulkner County Library in Conway.
“Welcome to Shelbyville” is a rare, inside look at America at a crossroads. In a small Tennessee town in the heart of the Bible Belt, a community grapples with rapidly changing demographics. Just a stone’s throw away from Pulaski, Tenn. (the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan), Shelbyville’s longtime African-American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a burgeoning Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Somali refugees of Muslim faith.
Set on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election, the film captures the interaction between Shelbyville’s old and new residents as they search for a way to live together during that tumultuous, history-changing year.
The economy was in crisis, factories were closing, and jobs were hard to find. The local Tyson chicken plant was hiring hundreds of new Somali refugees, and when a local reporter initiated a series of articles about these newcomers, a flurry of controversy and debate erupted within the town. Just as the town’s Latino population began to struggle with their own immigrant identity, African-American residents looked back at their segregated past, balancing perceived threats to their livelihood and security against the values that they learned through their own long struggle for civil rights.
While the newcomers, mostly of Muslim faith, attempt to make new lives for themselves and their children, leaders in this deeply religious community attempt to guide their congregations through this period of unprecedented change.
Through the vibrant and colorful characters of Shelbyville, the film explores immigrant integration and the interplay between race, religion and identity in a changing America, creating an intimate portrayal of a community’s struggle to understand what it means to be American.
The screening will be held at the Faulkner County Library, 1900 Tyler Street in Conway. A community discussion will be held following the screening, and refreshments will be served. Additional information is available by calling AETN at 800-662-2386 or the Faulkner County Library at 501-327-7482.
“Welcome to Shelbyville” will air Wednesday, May 25, at 7 p.m. on AETN-3 PLUS/World and Sunday, May 29, at 11 p.m. on AETN-1.
Community Cinema, a free monthly screening series engaging communities through film produced by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), features monthly screenings followed by panel discussions with leading organizations, local communities and special guest speakers. The program is designed to help people learn about and get involved in the social issues raised in the documentaries.
The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas’s statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit, or follow the AETN blog at AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).