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A Town Like Lackawanna

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tina Gharavi


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A timely observational documentary focusing on the attitudes of two distinct groups of men, American-Muslims from the Yemeni community and those from white European backgrounds, who once worked in the former steel mining industry in Lackawanna, near Buffalo, New York. The documentary records these two groups talking about the changes in their communities and the shift in attitudes since 9/11 and particularly following the arrest and trial for terrorism offences of the so-called Lackawanna 6 (six American-Yemeni young men arrested under Bush’s retrospective anti-terrorism legislation). The film challenges traditional methodology of documentary storytelling and presents a unique anthropology of a particular time and place. The Hallwalls Media Residency in Buffalo NY has been running since the 1970s and is a prestigious invitation for artists in the US. It is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. A Town Like Lackawanna was a result of being invited to undertake a period of residency in America only months after 9/11. Gharavi: ‘As an Iranian-American myself, I found it almost impossible not to confront the issues which presented themselves in the very locality I was visiting, given that the Lackawanna 6 had just been arrested and were in the news. The resulting film of the journey to Buffalo and my journey between the two camps again underlines my investigations into the unseen tension that exists between what is seen and what is left on the cutting room floor. This lyrical film is also very much a self-portrait, a very personal film, as even though I am not the subject of the film and I am not physically present, my “presence” exists and resounds in every scene.’ The construction of the juxtaposed scenes also portrays the anguish that many Middle-Eastern Americans experienced at that time. The resulting film has had modest exposure so far but has been broadcast in the US (Community Channel, Buffalo NY) and screened at several festivals internationally. Commissioned by Hallwalls as part of a highly prestigious residency programme sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (USA).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gharavi T

Publication type: Digital or Visual Media

Publication status: Published

Year: 2004

Source Publication Date: 01-01-2004

Publisher: Hallwalls Media Institute

Place Published: USA/UK

Type: DVD (Digital Video, 25’)