Nov. 17 ‘Coffee and Conversation’ Series Screens ‘The State of Arizona’

News Release Date: 
October 31, 2013

For Immediate Release

Nov. 17 ‘Coffee and Conversation’ Series Screens ‘The State of Arizona’

 LINCOLN, Neb. (Oct. 31, 2013) -- NET’s next  “Coffee and Conversation in the Community” film and discussion series begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, with a screening of “The State of Arizona,” at Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center at 313 N. 13th St. on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

“Coffee and Conversation” is free and open to the public. A moderated discussion of the film follows the screening. The films are shown in partnership with ITVS Community Cinema, Lincoln community radio station KZUM (89.3 FM), the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center,  the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the Malone Community Center.

Producer-directors Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini’s vérité documentary captures the explosive emotions and complex realities behind Arizona’s headline-grabbing struggle with illegal immigration. Tracking the year after Arizona passed SB1070, its controversial “papers please” law, the film tells the stories of Arizonans on all sides of this divisive issue and depicts a state and its people testing the edges of our democratic values.

Frustrated with federal inaction and border issues, Arizona ignites a national maelstrom. Supporters call it a common sense law-enforcement tool; opponents see it as inevitably leading to racial profiling. SB1070’s stated intent is to make life so miserable for people that they will self-deport, challenging the civic sensibilities of many.

The film interweaves the volatile themes of immigration and race portrayed through a mosaic of characters and their responses to SB1070. We see Arizonans roiled by the pending law. Neighborhoods empty, businesses shutter, and immigrants flee the state. Those who choose to stay organize boycotts, mass demonstrations, daring acts of civil disobedience, and prepare families for the possibility of separation by sudden deportation. In contrast, the film also travels deep into the spirit of the newly empowered Tea Party movement for whom illegal immigration is a flashpoint.

Following the film, Lincoln immigration attorney Shirley Mora James will moderate a panel of experts who will explore the reasons and psychological effects regarding the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

The panelists are: DeeDee Garcia Blase, an immigration activist and writer from Arizona, who will join via video conference call; Holly Burns, mental health therapist and expert witness in immigration cases; Toni Leija-Wilson, an immigration attorney, whose step-father is fighting to stay in the United States, even though he came to America at age 17 and has been married to Leija-Wilson’s mother for 13 years; Lazaro Arturo Spindola, executive director of the Nebraska Latino American Commission; and Luis Ventura, a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and DREAMER/DACA recipient.

ITVS Community Cinema is a public education and civic engagement initiative featuring screenings of films from PBS’s “Independent Lens” in 100 cities and online. Between September and June, Community Cinema brings together leading organizations, community members and public television stations to learn, discuss and get involved in today’s critical social issues.

“Our vision for the ‘Coffee and Conversation’ series is to engage a network of citizens and organizations to act locally and reach out globally,” said Marthaellen Florence, NET Community Engagement and Educational Outreach director.

For more information on the series and NET Community Engagement and Educational Outreach, check the NET website at


CONTACT: NET Community Outreach director Marthaellen Florence, 402-470-6603 or
RELEASE WRITTEN BY: Kim Hachiya, 402-470-6694, or

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