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6 steps to hosting a film screening and discussion

One of the most powerful ways to influence social change is through art. Documentary films illuminate the profound human impacts of immigration detention practices in ways that facts and figures alone cannot convey.



1. Identify where and when you’ll host the film

Consider if the venue can accommodate a film screening.  Does the room have speakers?  If not, do you have portable speakers powerful enough so everyone can hear? When selecting a date and time during the week of Aug. 10, consider other events in the community, holidays, sports events, or social gatherings so people aren’t asked to choose between goings on. 

2. Choose a film to screen

  • Check out AFSC’s immigration detention quota playlist on YouTube to see our favorite videos from across the internet that discuss why quotas devastate communities and families.
  • Another source is the, which features short film clips that tell the stories of immigrants directly impacted by U.S. policies, such as detention quotas. Alongside each film are discussion guides and educational resources.  

3. Promote your event

Let everyone know you’re having a fun, social, and educational get together! Use diverse outreach methods to invite as many people as possible: social media, blog posts, listings in your local newspaper, adding the event to house of worship newsletters, posting flyers around town, email listservs, etc.

4. Prepare for your screening

Print information about the detention quota so people attending can learn about the issue and share the handouts with their friends, family, neighbors, etc. Test equipment to make sure there aren’t any last minute hiccups in technology. Make sure the room is set up for the event.

5. Enjoy your role as host/hostess!

Greet each guests and create an inclusive environment. Welcome the group, introduce yourself and why you’re hosting the gathering, and explain a bit about the film.  Hit “play” and relax. After the film, engage attendees about what they just saw.  If you’re using films from you’ll find film-specific sample discussion questions to get you started.  You can also use the discussion questions below and/or create your own questions:

  • (HEART) How did the story make you feel? Talk about why aspects of the narrative had such an impact.
  • (HANDS) Why did immigrants in the film leave their country of origin? What are some of the ways that she/he handled, or might have handled, these challenges?
  • (BODY) If you were friends with the storyteller, how might you talk with them about their situation? What questions would you ask them?

6. Thank everyone for joining you! 

Invite them to use their voice to end detention quotas by taking AFSC’s online action, agreeing to write an op-ed, or meeting with their representative to discuss quotas.  


Still looking for other ways to raise these issues?  Be creative! Here are a few more ideas:

  • Take action online to ask your U.S. representative to end detention quotas in contracts between ICE and private prison corporations.
  • Look up and attend town hall meetings hosted by your representative. Ask them what they think about detention quotas that pull families apart and funnel taxpayer dollars into the pockets of private prison companies. Give them a copy of our congressional handout.
  • Host a vigil in solidarity with immigrants in detention and their loved ones working on the outside for their release. Here’s a guide to sponsoring a vigil in front of detention centers.
  • Educate yourself and others about detention quotas, starting with the list of resources we’ve included in this toolkit.
  • Write an op-ed or short article about your perspective on immigration detention and quotas for your neighborhood newsletter, or house of worship bulletin/website.
  • Share our social media resources with your networks.
  • Give an informal “brown bag lunch” session about the issue to people in your worship community, book club, social club, alumni group, etc.
  • Create and share meditations, intentions, or prayers for immigrant detainees. Join your faith community to pray for detainees, their loved ones, our society, and policy leaders.