TX Sen. Kirk Watson Presents Immigration Documentary 9500 Liberty, Followed by Lawmaker Forum June 2
Award-winner opens for the public Friday June 4 at Landmark Dobie with TX REP. EDDIE RODRIGUEZ
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Austin, TX – May 24, 2010 — Texas Senator Kirk Watson and the Austin Film Festival will present a special advance screening of the documentary film “9500 Liberty” by acclaimed directors Eric Byler & Annabel Park at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, TX. “9500 Liberty” provides a behind-the-scenes look at a government and a community that adopted "The Immigration Resolution," a stringent anti-immigration ordinance similar to the law recently signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
Scheduled for 7:00PM on Wednesday June 2, the screening will be followed by a discussion moderated by Watson with film director Eric Byler, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, immigration law expert Kathleen Campbell Walker, and Eddie Aldrete, Senior Vice President for IBC Bank. The discussion will also take place in the Texas Spirit Theater at the Bullock Museum, which is located at 1800 North Congress Avenue.
Special Advance Screening (SOLD OUT)
Wed. June 2nd at 7:00 PM
Texas Spirit Theater at the Bullock Museum
1800 North Congress Avenue • Austin, TX 78701
Sen. Kirk Watson, dir. Eric Byler, Police Chief Art Acevedo panel discussion to follow screening
Landmark Dobie Theater
Daily starting Friday June 4th
2025 Guadalupe Street in the Dobie Mall • Austin, TX 78705
Director Eric Byler and Texas State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez
in person for Opening Night Event 7:00 PM Friday, 6/4
SPECIAL ADVANCE SCREENING WITH SPANISH SUBTITLES
Saturday, May 29 at 6:00 PM
4601 Pecan Brook Drive
Austin, TX 78724
Director Eric Byler in person for Q & A
presented by the Austin Immigrants Rights Coalition
"9500 Liberty" explores the immigration culture war of 2007 and 2008 in Prince William County, Virginia, where elected officials adopted a regulation requiring police officers to question anyone they had "probable cause" to think was an an undocumented immigrant. During filming, co-directors Annabel Park and Eric Byler released raw footage on YouTube, allowing public comment and inviting residents of the county to add their voice to what became the world's first "interactive documentary." The feature film provides an inside look at how ordinary citizens used YouTube and other new media tools to respond to extreme political tactics and repeal the controversial "probable cause" mandate.
"9500 Liberty" was rushed into theatrical release by Harkins Theatres after Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed SB 1070, which requires law enforcement officials to conduct immigration status checks if they have "reasonable suspicion" that a person lacks proper documentation. After a sold-out premiere in Tempe, AZ and a successful run in Phoenix, the film begins its national roll-out in June. "The reception has been really wonderful in Arizona," Byler said. "Ordinary citizens are coming together across party lines and across ethnic lines to learn about this issue, and consider whether laws like SB 1070 are sound policy, or just a political strategy lacking proper vetting or research. I hope this kind of fact-based consideration continues in Arizona and around the nation." Byler is also known for his narrative films "Charlotte Sometimes" (Audience Award winner SXSW 2002) and "Americanese" (Audience Award, Special Jury Prize SXSW 2006).
The "probable cause" mandate in Prince William County was repealed after two months of implementation when citizens organized in opposition, citing its negative economic impact, the tax increases it had caused, and the threat of expensive law suits. After 15 years of falling crime rates, Prince William County saw a rising crime rate during the year of its immigration culture war, but both the economy and public safety have improved since the repeal of the controversial provision. Both the Prince William County law and the Arizona law were drafted by an anti-immigration lobbying firm in Washington DC called Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and one of FAIR's top lawyers provides a dramatic moment in "9500 Liberty" when he proclaims himself the "mad scientist" and Prince William County his "field study." Byler and Park broke the story by releasing this footage on YouTube in April of 2008. The law was repealed not long afterward.
Byler of Gainesville, VA (in Prince William County) and Park of Silver Spring, MD are also known as founding members of Coffee Party USA, a national grassroots organization that is reengaging America's silent majority by promoting fact-based and solutions-oriented civic participation, with an emphasis on respect for diverse opinions and diverse cultures. The first Coffee Party convention will be held in August in Louisville, Kentucky.
For Eric Byler and 9500 Liberty, contact:
Christine Finnegan / 214-566-8764 / firstname.lastname@example.org
For Sen. Watson event press inquiries, contact:
Elaine Garza / Giant Noise / 512-382-9017 / email@example.com
William Mills / Giant Noise / 512-382-9017 / firstname.lastname@example.org