Hundreds attend showing of Syrian refugee movie

Salam Neighbor, a film offering an intimate look at a dire humanitarian crisis, made its local debut at the Fairfield Museum on Sunday, Jan. 10. Each of two sold-out film screenings was followed by an important and engaging discussion about the Syrian refugee crisis and its implications for the U.S. and Connecticut.

Local filmmakers Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci embedded themselves in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, seven miles from the Syrian war where 85,000 Syrians struggle to restart their lives inside the camp. They were the first filmmakers ever allowed by the United Nations to be given a tent and registered inside a refugee camp.

Chris Temple said the screening at the Fairfield Museum was exactly what he and Zach had hoped for.  “To see the community come together to watch this film and hear the stories of refugees, made me proud to have grown up in Connecticut. I encourage others who are interested to come to our website, www.SalamNeighbor.org, and bring the film to their school, church, or community.”

Mike Jehle, Executive Director of the Fairfield Museum said the non-profit organization was honored to be able to host this informative event for area citizens. “The Fairfield Museum serves as an important center for community learning, where we come together to better understand our shared history and discuss the issues that define our future,” he said. More than 300 members of the community and press attended.

Panel speakers were Mr. Temple, the film’s director, Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick and former chairman of USA for UNHCR—the UN Refugee Agency, and Claudia Connor, president and CEO of International Institute of Connecticut, Inc. (IICONN). Ms. Connor said IICONN was pleased to participate in the conversation in connection with the screening of the film. “The screening of ‘Salam Neighbor’ was an exceptional opportunity for our local communities to gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances and context in which millions of refugees live. At IICONN, most of the refugees we resettle have lived for years, or decades, in refugee camps. Learning more about refugees’ stories and journeys enables all of us to better understand why people flee their home countries and resettle permanently elsewhere. At IICONN, we are proud to be part of a long-standing American tradition of welcoming persecuted people to our country and ensuring a peaceful and safe place for them to start their lives anew.”

Mr. Jehle added, “We are honored with work with the International Institute of Connecticut and others to show this important film, and to foster dialogue about how we can best respond as a community to this international tragedy.”

Attendees were served Middle Eastern fare from Festivities Catering and beverages graciously donated by Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market before the screening and panel. The event was organized and supported by Katia and Robert Mead, Caroline and Jack Leslie, and Tim and Tracy Stuart.

About the Fairfield Museum and History Center

The Fairfield Museum is a fascinating non-profit museum, library, cultural arts and educational organization founded in 1903 that provides families in Fairfield County with a wide array of exhibits and educational programs that teach regional history, celebrate a shared heritage, and prepare students and adults to be more active participants in their community. Located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, CT, the Museum is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults; $3 for students and seniors. Members of the Museum and children under 5 are free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org.

We believe in the power of history to inspire the imagination, stimulate thought and transform society. Our mission is to connect people around the complex history of Fairfield and neighboring communities so that together we may shape a more informed future. Program support comes from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, CT Humanities and our generous community donors and corporate sponsors.

About IICONN

Founded in 1918, IICONN is a statewide nonprofit human services agency that provides services to new immigrants and refugees in Connecticut to help them become self-sufficient, integrated and contributing members of the community. IICONN offers legal, social, linguistic and educational programs to help refugees and immigrants overcome the many barriers they face in adjusting to their new environments. In addition, IICONN provides special services to victims of serious crimes such as human trafficking, torture and domestic violence. Each year, IICONN assists close to 5,000 individuals from its offices in Bridgeport, Stamford and Hartford.

Claudia Connor, president and CEO of The International Institute of Connecticut and Chris Temple, director of Salam Neighbor

Claudia Connor, president and CEO of The International Institute of Connecticut and Chris Temple, director of Salam Neighbor

Mike Jehle, executive director of the Fairfield Museum, Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick, and Chris Temple, director of Salam Neighbor

Mike Jehle, executive director of the Fairfield Museum, Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick, and Chris Temple, director of Salam Neighbor

Attendees were treated to Middle Eastern fare from Festivities Catering before the film screening and panel at the Fairfield Museum

Attendees were treated to Middle Eastern fare from Festivities Catering before the film screening and panel at the Fairfield Museum

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