The DWF Campaign

Starting today,
80 cities across America will hold screenings of Divided We Fall and hold deep community dialogues about race, religion, and renewal during the seven-year anniversary of September 11, 2001. To find a screening nearest you:

After two years on tour with Divided We Fall, my director Sharat Raju and I sat with our circle of friends and volunteers this summer to talk about what how to release the film. In 100 screenings and events around the world, we had discovered that the film had remarkable power to rip open a space for deep dialogue among our audiences. Now that it was time to release the film, we could go the way of traditional theatrical distribution in a couple of cities, but this felt incomplete. We talked, debated, and meditated.

We thought ahead to the 9/11 anniversary mere weeks before the most historic election in out nation’s history. We anticipated that the memory and trauma of the terrorist attacks would likely be used to serve a politics of fear. We knew that people were hungry for brave new honest dialogue (we felt this ourselves every time we turned on the evening news). We knew we had something to offer. And so we decided to put the film directly in the hands of communities.

With the help of our friends and supporters, we launched an ambitious grassroots campaign to screen the film in cities across the country in September — as a way to commemorate those who died on 9/11 and its aftermath through deep community dialogue about race and religion, fear and forgiveness, who we are and who we want to be.

We didn’t know if it would be possible. We had no major company behind us to print the advertising and book the theaters. We relied on everyday people to answer the call.

And they did.

Today, tens of thousands of people in 80 cities across the country will gather in college lecture halls and living rooms, theaters and mosques, churches and gurdwaras and community centers to watch Divided We Fall and reflect together on how these stories may help us imagine and work toward a more perfect union.

I am humbled and inspired by this journey that began seven years ago today. It began when I picked up my camera after 9/11, but it was carried and completed by all the people who gave their stories, skills, and passion to something larger than any of us. This film is a testament to what is possible when people join together to reach deep into hate and violence in order to transform it.

Tonight, I will spend the anniversary returning to New York City, where a gay pride group will host a film focused on Sikhs and Muslims in a Jewish community center: I can’t imagine a more perfect illustration of the spirit of solidarity that the film inspires.

Thank you to all who have the courage to tell their own untold stories.