Williams Reads to Host Two Debut Films in a Series that Explores Immigration and Diversity

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, executive assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., October 3, 2019—Williams Reads, an initiative at Williams College that aims to foster new connections among students, staff, faculty, and community members by exploring diversity through a common reading experience, will host the first two film screenings in a series during the 2019-20 academic year on the topic of immigration. The first film, An American Tail, chronicles the American immigrant experience under the guise of an imaginary mouse. The film will be shown on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Images Cinema, 50 Spring St. in Williamstown. The second film, Deephan, tells the story of a Tamil freedom fighter, a “Tiger,” who flees Sri Lanka’s civil war. The film will be shown on Sunday, Oct. 13, from 1 to 3 p.m. and will also screen at Images Cinema. Both events are free and open to the public.

An American Tail is an animated story told from the point of view of a Russian and Jewish immigrant mouse, Fievel Mousekewitz. After escaping the tyranny of the cats in his homeland, the mouse encounters further trials and tribulations upon arriving on American soil—simply being in the U.S. hardly solves his problems. As Fievel and his family navigate their new surroundings, they are exposed to the glories and perils of American culture and the realities of the “American Dream.” The film explores the resilience, hardships, determination, and hope that characterizes life as an immigrant. Released in 1986, this musical comedy-drama was a box office hit and the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film during its time.

Deephan recounts a tale of escape from the waning civil war in Sri Lanka. Dheephan, a Tamil Tiger freedom fighter, takes two strangers with him in his plight—a woman and a little girl. By disguising themselves as a “family,” Dheepan hopes it will be easier to find asylum in Europe. The bunch ends up in Paris, moving from one temporary home to the next. Dheepan finds work as the caretaker of a run-down housing block in the suburbs, where he builds a new life and real home for his “wife” and “daughter.” However, the violence he confronts there awakens his past fighting instincts to protect the people he hopes will become his true family. The 2015 film won critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC) at Williams College, the group that created Williams Reads, is sponsoring the year-long programming with the hopes of fostering new connections among students, staff, faculty, and community members. This year’s book selection, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, was chosen to stimulate community engagement in challenging conversations on identity and opportunity for immigrants. Through this common reading experience, CDC intends to enhance our understanding and appreciation of diversity in the Williams community, and more broadly, the United States.

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