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KU professor's documentary explores immigration in Garden City

Thursday, September 19, 2019

UDK | Alicia Marksberry

A documentary film about immigration in a southwestern Kansas town, directed by KU film and media studies professor Bob Hurst, is in its final stages of production. “Garden City” focuses on immigration, domestic terrorism and the ups and downs of living in a pluralistic society in Garden City.

Hurst has been working on the film with producer and University of Kansas graduate Tess Banion for about two and a half years. They recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and have visited Garden City dozens of times for the film. 

“We don’t have a deadline,” Hurst said. “We go down there, we hang around until the story sort of reveals itself in a way.”

Garden City first caught Hurst’s attention after he heard about the failed bomb plot of three men targeting Muslim Somali immigrants who lived there in 2016. When he went to investigate with his film crew, he learned Garden City has a large immigrant population because of the many job opportunities available. 

“Garden City is a majority-minority city,” Hurst said. “There’s more than 30 languages spoken in the public schools, and that’s because the biggest primary employer is a meatpacking plant.”

The film explores how immigration has allowed the city to thrive. It also shows how Garden City sets an example as a community of people from many different backgrounds who come together to keep a city alive. 

“Immigration is literally life for these cities because without immigration there wouldn’t be anything left,” Hurst said. “Garden City is not perfect. There are struggles, but people agree that we have to work to get along.”... Read more

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