Local filmmaker Jessica Vecchione -- the creative force behind the award-winning documentary Bienvenidos a Fleischmanns -- has produced an extraordinary short documentary on the ugly battle over a tiny Sufi cemetery that, in the past few weeks, made the little town of Sidney the focus of a maelstrom of unwelcome attention. In the movie, which you can watch in its entirety above, she records a recent town meeting that drew over 150 people, and interviews Hans Hass, spokesman for the Osmanlı Nakş-ı'bendi Hakkani Dergah, and their lawyer, Tom Schimmerling.
While the image of Muslim zombies invading upstate New York surely got a few laughs on national television, this thing has clearly been very painful to the town of Sidney. We've been following it pretty closely. We've read the news coverage in local and national outlets, we've seen Keith Olbermann and Stephen Colbert sound off on it, and we've spoken to a prominent Sidney resident about the issue. But Vecchione's film is something new. Nowhere else have we heard the voices of the local Sufi community, and the hundreds of Sidney residents who support them, speaking so clearly. And that's exactly what she set out to do. In her words:
I'm happy to help these people have a voice, in light of a very ugly situation.
Kudos to Vecchione for producing such a powerful film, especially on such tight deadline. She's generously offered to share it with anyone who wants to help distribute it. We hope it gets around.