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Sarah Unruh ’12

Film focuses on timely issue of immigration in America

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – In a climate of heated and divisive debate in the United States over immigration, the second film in the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution spring film series could hardly be more timely.

KIPCOR will host a screening of the 90-minute documentary Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America May 9 at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center, on the Bethel College campus. The film is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support the work of KIPCOR.

Hamilton Williams, Bethel College professor of social work, will lead a talk-back session following.

This feature-length film examines the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis the country faces today.

Based on the book Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America (Viking, 2000; revised edition issued by Penguin Books, 2011) by award-winning journalist Juan González, Harvest of Empire looks at the role U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the United States control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of U.S. citizens.

As González says at the beginning of the film, “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades – actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.”

Harvest of Empire features present-day immigrant stories and rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Lorenzo Meyer, journalists Maria Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy Award-winning singer Luis Enrique and poet Martín Espada.

The film focuses on seven countries in the Latin American regions closest to the United States – Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Nicaragua – and a group of Americans that includes WWII and Korean War veteran Gonzalo Garza, migrant farm-worker-turned-neurosurgeon Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, torture survivor María Guardado, singer Luis Enrique and mother and daughter Mariana Cabrera and Mariana Zamboni, whose immigrant story symbolizes the daily contributions Latinos make to life in the United States.

Juan González has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years and a staff columnist at the New York Daily News since 1987. He is also the co-host of the daily radio and television program Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. González is a two-time recipient of the George Polk Award for commentary (1998 and 2010).

In addition to Harvest of Empire, González is the author of Roll Down Your Window: Stories of a Forgotten America (Verso, 1996); Fallout: The Environmental Consequences of the World Trade Center Collapse (The New Press, 2002), documenting cover-ups by Environmental Protection Agency and government officials of health hazards at Ground Zero in New York; and, most recently, News for all the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media (Verso, 2011), co-authored with Joseph Torres.

Harvest of Empire co-director Peter Getzels is an Emmy Award-winning documentary director, producer and cinematographer. He is executive producer, director and writer at Getzels Gordon Productions, an independent production company in Washington, D.C., where he is leading the production team for Closer to Truth, an ambitious, 117-episode science series on cosmology, consciousness and God, for PBS. Getzels has also served as a staff producer at National Geographic and has directed, shot and/or written a number of award-winning documentaries for the flagship series Explorer and Ultimate Explorer.

Co-director Eduardo López is co-founder of EVS Communications and the producer of Línea Directa, an award-winning Spanish-language television series that provides Latino families living in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area with information on their rights, as well as on important health, education, legal and social service issues. In recognition of his ground-breaking work in public education, López was named a winner of the Ford Foundation’s prestigious 2002 Leadership for a Changing World award.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.