How Democracy Works Now Film Series To Premiere Two Films at 2010 Human Rights Watch Film Festival

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“Last Best Chance” and “Mountains and Clouds” Offer Timely Backstage Glimpse Into Congress’s Struggle to Pass Historic Immigration Reform

Two films from the critically acclaimed 12-part political documentary series “How Democracy Works Now” (http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com) will have their New York debut at this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Nine years in the making by award-winning filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini, the films offer both the backstory and the roadmap ahead to the fight for immigration reform raging today.

At the series’ core is a fundamental question: Up to twenty million undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States today. How will American democracy shape their fates, and the future of this country?

With unprecedented access to some of the most powerful members of the U.S. Congress, How Democracy Works Now explores different angles on this question in revealing, behind-the-scenes footage. To convey the real taste of what happens behind closed doors in Washington DC, Robertson and Camerini earned the trust of their subjects, sharing close Congressional quarters, political campaigns at all levels and marathon 16-hour days with a range of characters in the struggle.

The two films featured in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival are windows into two separate, and very different battles for comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill, bookending the modern campaign for federal action to address the issue of undocumented immigrants living illegally in an economy that depends on them.

“Mountains and Clouds” (http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/story/mountains-and-clouds) begins in the electrifying summer before 9/11 when immigration overhaul looks all but certain, then jumps to the following winter with The War on Terror as the top national agenda. Senator Ted Kennedy and his unexpected Senate partner, conservative evangelical Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, have every intention of passing security legislation in order to return to their immigration bill. But fate -- and senior statesman Senator Robert Byrd -- throw up a roadblock.

“Mountains and Clouds” premieres 3:30 PM on Saturday, June 19 at Walter Reade Theater. Reception follows the screening.

“Last Best Chance,” (http://www.howdemocracyworksnow.com/story/last-best-chance) the Director’s Cut of “The Senators’ Bargain,” the widely acclaimed film that had its television debut on HBO in March 2010, brilliantly presents political legend Senator Edward Kennedy in his final battle for his lifelong cause of comprehensive immigration reform. At its heart, this fast-moving story is a moral tale of modern American politics. Ted Kennedy, one of a handful of people who through his personal efforts changed the face of America, is forced to decide how much he wants this deal and what he is willing to trade for his greatest legacy.

“Last Best Chance’“ premieres Wednesday, June 23, at 6:15pm at Walter Reade Theater.

Both films underscore Human Rights Watch’s commitment to immigration policy, and provide invaluable lessons for the hurdles that continue to face lawmakers, advocates and the nation. Human Right Watch has done extensive work on US immigration policies and practices, including on violations of the rights of immigrants to fair treatment, freedom from arbitrary detention, respect for family unity, and protection from being returned to countries where they face persecution.

Now, as the White House, Congress, lobbyists, advocates and a vocal opposition are once again wrestling over the formidable task of creating a new immigration system, ”Mountains and Clouds“ offers a rare ringside look at the ways things actually work in the U.S. Senate, and “Last Best Chance” has been called must-see viewing for those engaged in the next battles.

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Rachel Sterne

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