Seeking Solutions: Our New Documentary on Immigration

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In addition to working on client projects here at Distant Peak Productions, wife-husband team Polly and Adrian are producing a documentary film. One thing that has caught our attention is that it seems to us like much of what passes for civil discourse these days is two people who claim polar opposite viewpoints yelling at each other. Or on social media people segregate into their respective bubbles and therefore avoid other viewpoints all together. Meanwhile, the notion of “both sides” implies that there are only two solutions for any problem facing us today. We don’t believe that’s true, and we don’t think this approach leads to solutions.

We believe there are a spectrum of solutions, and we think exploring that spectrum could be beneficial to all citizens and politicians. As Quakers, we are Seekers of Truth, and we feel led to create a series of journalistic explorations via documentary filmmaking, on topics that are affecting the future of this country and planet.

For our first film, we are diving right into perhaps the most contentious topic of the day: Immigration.

We began learning more about immigration this spring when we created videos of four Colorado women in sanctuary, and the spiritual leaders who are supporting them. Through our interviews, we found the topic and potential solutions to be much more complex and nuanced than it might appear from a quick glance at the nightly news or Twitter.

To obtain our spectrum of solutions, we’re interviewing approximately 10 people who have different perspectives on the American immigration system. These include: Immigrants who have experienced first-hand the current immigration system, a lawyer who attempts to help would-be documented immigrants navigate the system, a politician with the power to influence the future of the system, a historian with perspective on previous approaches and attitudes, an economist and an environmental expert who study the impact of immigration, and others.

Our main question for them: “What would a successful immigration system for the United States look like?” We’ll follow up with questions along moral, economic and social axes and what staying true to America’s values means. We’ll also ask each of them to suggest a question to ask the other interviewees, as a form of dialogue.

When we’ve collected their solutions, we’ll look for overlap between them; in other words, a phrase too-little heard these days: common ground.  

We’ll also integrate our own research, with information graphics and other visuals.

It’s an experiment, a leap of faith that productive discourse among people with different ideas is still possible. We’re not sure what will come of it, but our hope and intention is encourage critical analysis, burst “bubbles” by exposing viewers to positions different than theirs, and encourage people to examine the strength of their own positions.

Want to be a part of it?

  • Send us your ideas for people we should interview, or questions to ask the interviewees.
  • Follow our progress on our blog.