Local film about immigration in Garden City wins festival award

photo by: Contributed

Filmmakers, from left, Jim Jewell, Reuben Aaronson and Stephen Lerner appear Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, at the Borrego Springs Film Festival in Southern California, where they screened their documentary "Strangers in Town," which is about Garden City's successful immigration story.

A locally made film about immigration has won an award at the 2020 Borrego Springs Film Festival in Southern California.

The film, “Strangers in Town,” co-directed by Lawrence resident Stephen Lerner and Reuben Aaronson of Los Angeles, won the People’s Choice Documentary award.

Lerner said he wasn’t too surprised “because the response was huge at the screening, though you never know till it happens.”

He said the festival screened more than 70 films.

The 33-minute documentary tells the story of how Garden City, a town of 26,000 in southwest Kansas, has become a welcoming and diverse community in the decades since the world’s largest meat-packing plant opened there in 1980, attracting workers from all over the world.

Last year, the film won the Audience Favorite award at the Film Festival at Browns Point in Tacoma, Wash.

Lerner told the Journal-World recently that he didn’t make the film to enter it in festivals; he made it “to add Garden City’s positive immigration story to the national conversation.”

Still, he’s been happy with its reception. The two awards the film has garnered “are from the viewers, which I like.”

“Strangers in Town” is available for viewing online at http://strangersintownthefilm.com/.

photo by: Contributed

The poster for the Jan. 21 screening of the film “Strangers in Town” at the Lawrence Public Library.


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