Movie: The Letter: An American Town and the "Somali Invasion"

Our Rating: 3.00

Taken by surprise by a massive influx of Somali refugees, the town of Lewiston, Maine, responded first with open-armed acceptance – and then with thinly veiled loathing as fears grew that the new neighbors were bleeding the local economy dry. The tension boiled over when Mayor Larry "Nobody Loves" Raymond drafted a letter imploring the Somalis to encourage their friends and relatives to stay the hell away; that bone-headed move put Lewiston on the national radar, spurring racist kingpins to rally to the aid of locals who feared, in the words of one delightful interviewee, "the negative impact that diversity brings." Filmmaker Ziad Hamzeh's documentary allows slavering bigots and slicker-tongued hypocrites alike to speak for themselves, thus exposing the essential interdependence of over-the-counter racism and its institutionalized, more soundbite-savvy variation. The film moves relentlessly toward a climactic confrontation between xenophobic and pro-diversity forces. But a dreaded day of simultaneous rallies passes without incident, placating our peacenik desires while frustrating the heck out of our learned movie-watching expectations. It's highly embarrassing to admit you were disappointed by the lack of a race riot, yet The Letter almost makes you do it.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.