WELCOME TO SHELBYVILLE is a glimpse of America at a crossroads. In one town in the heart of America’s bible belt, a community grapples with rapidly changing demographics. Longtime African-American and White residents are challenged with how to integrate with a growing 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 these residents as they navigate new waters against the backdrop of a tumultuous year. The economy is in crisis, factories are closing, and jobs are hard to find. Just as the Latino population grapples with their own immigrant identity, African-America residents look back at their segregated past and balance perceived threats to their livelihood against the values that they learned through their own long struggle for civil rights. While the new-comers 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. Ultimately, the story is an intimate portrayal of a community’s struggle to understand what it means to be American. Welcome to Shelbyville is produced and directed by Kim A. Snyder and executive produced by BeCause Foundation in association with Active Voice.
“This film is a game-changer.”
— David Lubell, Executive Director, Welcoming America
“Your honesty and lack of ‘sugar coating’ hit the mark. This will continue to serve as a springboard for discussion across America.”
— Sarah Hunt, Executive Director, Community Development Center
“A melting-pot movie, asimmer with social issues: immigration, racism, unemployment, intolerance…Welcome to Shelbyville does not sugarcoat the kinds of conflicts that been for centuries; it questions, it its way, what America means.”
— John Anderson, The NY Times
2010 Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Recipient