GOALS of the Post Screening Discussion:
- Increase understanding of different lived experiences;
- Motivate new thinking, behavior and action
Role of the Facilitator/Moderator:
- Engage the audience and panelists (filmmakers, film subjects, civic leaders, CSFilm representatives) in substantive and interesting discussion
- Keep the conversation moving
- Encourage reflections that highlight new understanding and motivate action
- Encourage community orientation (e.g., How do we become a stronger, healthier community for everyone?)
- Encourage people who might not otherwise speak up to share their perspectives
- Gently manage people who are speaking too long; encourage them to share the floor
- Encourage understanding of multiple sides if there are strong opinions
Sample Introduction Language
Discussion Intro: One of the primary purposes in making these films is to use them to stimulate public dialogue about immigration across the country to enhance understanding and motivate new thinking, behavior and action. This part of the evening is meant to be more than just Q&A.
Those of us here today include recent immigrants, 1st and 2nd generation Americans and those of us whose immigrant ancestors arrived generations ago. Most of us call this town/city our home.
Ideally, we can use this time as a kind of “town meeting” to discuss how individual behaviors, public policies and media coverage of immigrants and immigration either enable or restrict our ability to be strong community, and what we might want to do differently.
Introduce yourself: While our filmmakers, film subjects, panelists are coming to the front of the room and being miked up, please introduce yourself to someone near you that you’ve never met before – they are probably a neighbor or fellow member of our community. You can also begin considering the questions and discussion topics in your program.
Useful Starter Questions (to ask the Audience)
Sample Language: To get things started, I’d like to ask you [the audience] to respond or comment on a few questions on your experience of the films…
[The questions below are suggestions/prompts. Not all of them will be relevant for a given discussion. While CSFilm has found it useful to start with the first questions, a good facilitator will sense the flow of the conversation and use whatever questions or prompts will keep the conversation moving naturally.]
[To encourage understanding:]
- What stood out to you? What will you tell your friends about?
- What did you relate to? What reminded you of things in your own life?
- What felt unfamiliar, or new, or surprising?
- Do you have questions for immigrants in the audience [or the filmmakers or film subjects if present] to help you better understand their experiences or perspectives?
[To encourage action:]
[If action-related topics have not come up, be sure to make time to cover at least some action items before concluding. If people are moved or motivated, they will be most satisfied with the whole experience if they are given something concrete to do.]
- In what ways have these films and this conversation affected the way you view immigrants and immigration? Was there a specific moment that triggered this?
- Have you ever been misunderstood or stereotyped? Have you ever witnessed someone being misunderstood or stereotyped? Were you able to take any action to change the situation? What happened?
- What would you want to change in your community after “meeting” these immigrants and learning about their experiences? (e.g., Individual behaviors? Public policies? Local media perspectives of your immigrant neighbors?)
- In your program materials there are some selections from the Action Toolkit, which can be found in its entirety in the Resources section of the CSFilm website. Are there actions you could take that you might not have considered before?
Important Closing Remarks (to the Audience)
Feedback and Evaluation
As mentioned at the beginning, the purpose of these films and this public dialogue is to enhance understanding and motivate new thinking, behavior and action. Please complete the Feedback Form in your program materials.
We need your help to know how we are doing, to do better in future events, and to demonstrate the impact of these films and discussions.
Become Part of the CSFilm/NIRV Community
One action that you can take is to donate to Community Supported Film to support the National “Get-the-NIRV” Screen&Discuss Campaign and bring these films to more communities around the country.
Thank you for your support and engagement.
Challenging and Interesting Questions
All of us are more complex than most people realize. These questions are both for recent immigrants and long-time American residents:
Personal Identity Questions (from Welcoming America resources):
- What do you want others to know about you that they rarely know from just looking at you or hearing you categorized or stereotyped? (e.g., immigrant, person of color, white person, rich, poor, Republican, Democrat, Southerner, New Englander)
- What aspects of your views are more complex than one would guess from a typical pro and con way of presenting those views.
- What events or circumstances in your life have shaped who you are and what you care about most?
Community-oriented Questions (from Welcoming America resources):
- What has it meant to you to be able to live in this community? Please share a story from your life—before you lived here or while you lived here—that might help others understand what it means to you to live here.
- As you think about what you’d like to either preserve or change about what it feels like to live here, what’s at the heart of the matter for you?
- What aspects of these issues are complicated for you? Do you have any mixed feelings or are you sometimes torn in different directions? For example, is there something about the needs and perspectives you’ve heard about tonight—needs and perspectives different from yours—that you really understand?
Policy and Media Related Questions (from Mass Humanities resources):
- In a democratic society, should everyone have equal access to services, etc?
- Do we not have a responsibility to support other people from other places? Does our country have a responsibility to all citizens/residents—no matter where they are from—to support their humanistic goals?
- How does the history of immigration in the US play into the situation today?
- What should a community’s role be in integrating new immigrants?
- Do individual community members have an ethical, humanitarian or religious responsibility to welcome newcomers? Why or why not?
- What pressures, real or perceived, do new immigrants place on local employment, infrastructure, healthcare, and schools?
- What do immigrants bring to/contribute to communities?
- What new insights into the immigrant experience did you get from these films? Does it matter who tells these stories?
- How do communities negotiate the different needs and perspectives of their residents?
Things to remember about FACTS and POLICIES
Questions/Statements about FACTS:
- Statistics need to be seen in context
- Numbers and percentages reveal different things
Questions/Statements about POLICIES:
- Policies may or may not have the intended effect
- Policies often have unintended consequences
- Policies are made based partly on facts but mostly based on trade-offs of different risks and priorities
Refer to CSFilm’s Action Toolkit for lots of good resources.
Handling difficult questions/speakers
Be willing to try to uncover what legitimate human fears are driving their hostility.
Be honest about what you know and don’t know and if you feel differently, try to see where the disagreement comes from.
Usually disputes and disagreements come down to:
- Differences in definitions of key concepts (What is an immigrant? What is an American?), and
- Differences in priority and risk tolerance (Is security a greater risk and higher priority than helping others?) — these priorities or tolerance of risk may or may not have anything to do with actual facts.
Ask questions to understand their view rather than making statements that contradict them. Try to find your way to their root fears and recognize that they are real for them.
- Why do you feel that way?
- What is it about ___ that makes you nervous?
- How do we help other people to understand the things behind your point of view?