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Drake prof’s film on immigration to premiere on Documentary Channel

News PhotoWhile immigration is a hot topic in Arizona and other states, a film by a Drake University professor premiering next month on the Documentary Channel focuses on the impact of immigration in one Iowa community.

“‘A Little Salsa on the Prairie: The Changing Character of Perry, Iowa,’ looks at immigration-related issues that have gained much attention in the national media,” said Drake English professor Jody Swilky, who wrote and co-produced the documentary.

“The film looks at the impact of immigration on our states and local communities, particularly how to respond to the challenges of our changing demographic character.”

Earlier this month, Swilky discussed the documentary on the Iowa Public Radio program “The Exchange.” The episode is available online. A Radio Iowa feature on Swilky and the film can also be read online.

The documentary, also produced by independent filmmaker Kent Newman, will be featured on the Documentary Channel, which airs documentaries from around the world, including never-before-seen and independent films.Ӭ

The film has had more than 30 screenings in Iowa, California and New York. It has also been shown on Iowa Public Television and will premiere next month and run for two years. The film first aired on the Documentary Channel on Aug. 1 and will air again on:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 24, 12 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 8, 1 a.m. 
  • Monday, Sept. 13, 10:30 a.m.

In addition, the film will be featured in the Documentary Channel’s DOC Store, which offers a large selection of quality films available for purchase.

A documentary about Latinos in Perry, Iowa

“A Little Salsa on the Prairie” features local Perry residents who emigrated to the rural community from Mexico, as well as other countries and the U.S. It focuses on changes in Perry that began in the 1990s when the largely white community experienced an influx of Latino workers and their families.

Many of the workers traveled to Perry from Texas, California, Mexico and Central America to work in the local meat packing plant. In 10 years, Perry’s Latino population increased from 47 to 1,873, with Latinos accounting for 24.5 percent of the population by 2000. 

Swilky and Newman, founder and president of Full Spectrum Productions, present a historical look at Perry through the film with a focus on immigration, ethnicity and industry, specifically the presence of the meat packing plant as the major employer during the 1960s and the rise and fall of the railroad. The film also addresses the impact of Latino immigration on the economy, society and physical environment in Perry. 

Film to air on award-winning channel

The Documentary Channel, which launched in 2006 and is available on Dish, Direct TV and many cable networks, is independently owned and operated. Recently, it featured its first original series, DocTalk@USC, a half hour interview program with filmmakers conducted by Mark Harris of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television. The series, taped at USC with a live audience, will start playing in the fall.”¨”¨The channel was founded by Oscar nominated and Emmy winning documentarian Tom Neff and is run by President and CEO James Ackerman. It also won its first Emmy Award, for Outstanding Documentary, in September 2007, for “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire.”

For more information or to arrange a special screening of the documentary, contact Swilky at jody.swilky@drake.edu.