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  • Eric Byler, filmmaker, director of "Charlotte Sometimes," "9500 Liberty," "Tre," and "Americanese"

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  • Minor Uproar in Virginia over Inaccurate News Report About Annabel and Me

    Thursday, Apr 10, 2008 8:58AM / Standard Entry

    If you have not been following our work on the immigration battle in Prince William County, VA this chapter of the saga will be a bit hard to follow. If you have been following it, get a load of this:

    In reaction to a virtual (as in internet) uproar, Annabel and I have spoken to the author of the Potomac News article that erroneously reported that we had “joined forces” with a new political blog called AntiBVBL.net. The author, it turns out, didn’t even know our names. But he was very nice and apologetic, explaining that he was under pressure to finish the story for his deadline and did not have time to find out who we were and how to contact us. Of course we asked for a retraction. We also sent him the following statement:

    Statement from Eric Byler and Annabel Park Re. Potomac News Article

    The 9500 Liberty interactive documentary has been met with controversy from its inception because it was introduced into an election-season climate in which the Immigration Resolution was the primary issue, and the prevailing attitude of pro-Resolution advocates on BVBL was, “You’re Either With Us Or Against Us.” Under such a framework, it is easy to understand why the Washington Post, the Manassas Journal Messenger, Potomac News, and 9500 Liberty have all been labeled as “against us” at one time or another. Under such a misguided framework, the majority of Prince William County and the majority of America could be accused of the same. But the two options offered under the “With Us Or Against Us” framework are not the only perspectives on the immigration issue.

    AntiBVBL was created by a moderate Republican seeking to encourage those who do not fit within the “With Us Or Against Us” framework to add their voices to the immigration debate, without censorship or fear of reprisal. This is an exciting and much-needed concept, one that we decided to support. Our first step in doing so was inviting AntiBVBL to co-sponsor a party we threw on April 4th, designed to help a struggling business in Woodbridge stay afloat, and to preserve a sense of community in Prince William County after a period of intense division.

    The Invitation to the party was a public one, and remains available on YouTube.

    It makes no mention of the Immigration Resolution. In fact, Greg Letiecq, the moderator of BVBL, posted our invitation on his site and encouraged people to attend. There was nothing remotely controversial in our invitation, other than to state the fact that businesses are being adversely affected by the exodus of immigrant communities from Prince William County.

    It would be profoundly unfair to characterize the party as something it was not. Those who attended the party were drawn by a message to preserve a sense of community.

    The tragedy of the error in the Potomac News article of April 8th is that it revives the “With Us Or Against Us” framework in a time when the community needs to move beyond such divisive tactics and find a way to make wise, collective decisions about the future of this county.

    Just as there are various voices contributing to AntiBVBL, the 9500 Liberty filmmakers all have our unique perspectives. We shared some of them, quite openly, in the Washington Post OutLook Section of December 16th, and in our accompanying video essays. But we are independent filmmakers. We have not joined forces with anyone. This is critically important in this time when the community has been challenged to move beyond battle lines that have divided us in recent months.


  • Video From Party in Prince William County, VA -- Just Fun

    Monday, Apr 7, 2008 1:46PM / Standard Entry

    Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4ZH3X4E2W8

    If you can find your way to the comments page on the video above, please say something nice. Or better yet, join the dialog on AntiBVBL.net. Thanks (=


  • Is "White" a Racial Slur?

    Sunday, Apr 6, 2008 1:43AM / Standard Entry

    I named this video "Immigration Fight Hurts White Conservatives Too" and got some complaints. I’m not sure why people are offended. I’m half White and the term doesn’t bother me. Please watch the video and let me know what you think. I could easily change it, but I can’t decide if people object to the word "White" the same way Asian Americans don’t care to be called "Yellow," or if there is some reason why debunking the myth that the immigration issue pits Caucasians against Hispanics is somehow threatening to their power base.

    Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElJr_Ar-G3M


    If you’d like to help immigrants and those who believe in an inclusive society in Prince William County, Virginia -- please become a voice on this blog:


    You can use your real name or make up a name. But it would be good to have a variety of voices who are informed about the immigration issue.


  • 9500 Liberty Is Back, And We're Hosting A Party

    Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008 2:10PM / Standard Entry

    Most of you probably know this already, but Annabel and I documenting and also, to some degree, a part of the story of Prince William County's social and economic destruction due to hysteria over the immigration issue. If you watch the two short videos linked below, you'll understand just how the idea to throw this party came about. This is an E-mail that Annabel sent out moments ago to invite people out for a night of fun, but more importantly, to get the immigrant community and friend of immigrants off the deck, in the same room, and ready to discuss ways of reversing this misfortune.

    9500Liberty & AntiBVBL.net invite you to a party this Friday to support business owners in Prince William County.
    When: Friday, April 4th, 8pm-1am
    Where: El Portal restaurant
    14561 Jefferson Davis Hwy
    Woodbridge, VA 22191
    (703) 490-6290
    What: Great food, drinks, music and fascinating people including many featured in 9500Liberty. **Rumor has it many of the voices of AntiBVBL.net will reveal their identities, including the Admin. Eric and Annabel will also make brief remarks.

    Check out our Video Invitation to Save Prince William County’s Economy Party:

    Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOzMsv86UjU

    This is a 9500 Liberty interview that inspired the party (moments later) featuring Manuel Arbaiza, owner of El Portal restaurant:

    Hope you and your friends can join us in our support for Manuel and others struggling with economic difficulties in Prince William County. We plan to have more parties like this in upcoming weeks at locations around the county.

    Please call or email if you have any questions.


    Annabel & Eric

    For more information:

    As many of you know, since the "crackdown on illegal immigrants" resolution passed in Prince William County, Virginia in July, many Latino residents have left the county. You have all read by now that the flight of the Latino residents has had a dramatic effect on the economy in the county especially in Woodbridge and Manassas. Many excellent news reports have been written on this subject in the Washington Post and the DC Examiner.

    9500 Liberty is currently documenting the aftermath of the resolution and just uploaded our first video in the series: After the Resolution. We’re encountering heartbreaking cases of people who have lost homes, businesses or about to lose them. It’s devastating to witness a vibrant, growing community suddenly facing economic free fall.

    Please follow along as we document this story. A new local blog, AntiBVBL.net, tries to track, watch and outwit the anti-immigrant blog, bvbl.net, the activities of Help Save Manassas and the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.


  • Immigration Battle Boiling Over in Virginia (Annabel and I in the middle)

    Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 1:25AM / Standard Entry

    As many of you know, Annabel and I are in the middle of the immigration battle in Virginia best summed up by this video essay we did for the Washington Post. (Click here to read our accompanying text essays.)

    Today, a news article in theWashington Post has touched off a firestorm in Virginia's political blogs. It is about an event that we actually filmed two nights ago, were Prince William County Police Chief Charlie Dean met with concerned members of the immigrant community to explain the new laws known as the "crackdown on illegals." On an exciting new centrist blog called AntiBVBL.net a virtual fight broke out when I suggested that America's ethnic make-up is not something we can control — nor should we. I wrote, "The only thing we can control is the values that unite and define us as a nation. I suggest equality, fairness, respect, opportunity, democracy." You can click here to read the whole insanity, but this exchange is what I wanted to share with you:

    SecondAlamo wrote: “The only thing we can control is the values that unite and define us as a nation.” And your point? That is exactly why most of us are upset at watching those very VALUES being downgraded by people who don’t share them! They come from the lowest socioeconomic levels of their countries, for the most part, and therefore don’t necessarily share the same values as the majority of those whose neighborhoods they are moving into. Just as I wouldn’t want the local back woods trailer park relocating next door. It’s ideals and values that will always cause people to either congregate together or keep them apart. Gang members hang with gang members, and church supporters hang with church supporters, regardless of ethnic backgrounds. Simple fact of life. Just as you’ll never hang with members of HSM regardless of their ethnic backgrounds. What is so hard to understand about that?

    This is my reply:

    EricByler wrote: SecondAlamo, your comments above make my point better than I probably will below, but let me try:

    Let’s take a step backward and see the word “values” as if it could be separated from the wedge issue buzz-word that used to define “them” vs. “us” for political purposes. After all, the architects of this strategy have proven themselves woefully incompetent leaders, and the vast majority of “values voters” no longer grant them credibility.

    Some are still rallying behind the politics of division, but a countervailing force is beginning to emerge. “Uniting Values” are replacing “Dividing Values.”

    I prefer Uniting Values because they are based on American ideals like equality and opportunity, tolerance and respect. This, in my view, better defines America than any particular race or religion. (The founding documents made no mention of an official race or religion, but they did hold certain truths to be self evident).

    If we wish to come together as a nation, I propose focusing on values that everyone can share. Most people do share these values if given an opportunity to become part of this society. Yes, there is a process of assimilation, but this is true of all immigrants whether they “look American” at first glance or not. Ask Jeb Bush!

    On the other hand, there are Dividing Values designed to split us apart — “they” are not Christians, “they” are not Patriotic, “they” are not heterosexual, “they” don’t speak English, “they” are gang members while “we” go to church. Your comments above also refer to socio-economic class, an age-old way of defining “they” vs. “we.” If we see the world that way, we fail to identify common interests, common goals, or common ground. Divisive politics might win an election. They might justify a law, a policy, or even a war. But inevitably, we end up regretting collective decisions made out of fear, anger, and distrust.

    Right now, as undocumented immigrants, their American citizen families, and other people of color flee Prince William County, those who are left behind are suffering the consequences. Property rates are falling here more precipitously than the rest of the nation. Why? Because we have considerably more foreclosures due to people abandoning their mortgages and leaving. If you see the world as “them” vs. “us” you might cheer this idea assuming those who are deserting us are from the “them” category (as HSM members did last August when this was just beginning). But, when a home is abandoned to the banks, the value of the home next door goes down too. When businesses and entire strip malls fold up and leave the county, it doesn’t only affect the business owners who leave; it affects the ones who stay. The shoe store and the video store have less customers now because the restaurant and the supermarket have folded or relocated. This means the shoe store and the video store are next.

    People of different ethnicities, religions, documentation status, AND socio-economic backgrounds are deeply interconnected. We can’t afford to make decisions based on what divides us rather than that which we have in common.

    So as we are deciding how we feel about our Police Chief, let’s look at the values he is struggling to uphold– fairness, trust, openness, public safety, and equal protection under the law. Too many people (on both sides) are judging him in terms of “which side is he on?”

    Much is now being made of Chief Deane’s warning of 7-10-07. Well here’s another warning: the WORST THING WE COULD DO to make this cultural and economic disaster EVEN WORSE is to cause Chief Deane to leave us in the hands of a someone like the infamous KKK Sheriff in Arizona. That would represent the point no return.



  • Eric Byler (born January 15, 1972) is an American film director, screenwriter and political activist. He identifies as hapa biracial, born to a Chinese American mother and a white American father...


  • Occupation:  Director
  • Gender: Male
  • Total visits: 81,351

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