Public Lecture & Movie Screening “Hamtramck, USA” Bersama Razi Jafri, Produser dan Sutradara Amerika Serikat

Gradually, the 7th Floor Hall of A Building of the Faculty of Cultural Studies (FCS) Universitas Brawijaya (UB) began to fill up. Students and lecturers were eager to join the screening and discussion of documentary film by Razi Jafri, a producer and director who focuses on issues of race, religion, democracy and human rights. “Hamtramck, USA” has captured the public’s attention by raising the dynamics of democracy in America’s first Muslim-majority small town, a topic full of controversial issues.

FCS UB collaborated with the U.S. Consulate General Surabaya to organize a public lecture and documentary film screening event on important issues in the United States. The event was held on Friday (15/3/2024).

The event was opened by singing Indonesian national anthem, Indonesia Raya, and continued with remarks from Fatimah, S.Pd., M.Appl.Ling., Secretary of the Department of Language and Literature FCS UB. Fatimah expressed her heartfelt welcome and gratitude to Razi Jafri and the U.S. Consulate General Surabaya. She hoped that this event could be an inspiring discussion forum for all who attended, especially since the documentary film “Hamtramck, USA” brings worth watching topic of Muslim communities and democracy. Fatimah also hopes that FCS UB can continue other collaborations with the U.S. Consulate General Surabaya.


The event continued with remarks from Joshua Shen, Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Consulate General Surabaya. Joshua emphasized the importance of art and cultural media in discussing relevant issues.

“We are excited to have the opportunity for cultural exchange. As you know, sometimes we talk about current issues, such as AI, climate crisis, and gender inequality. Those are all very important. We often think that culture is secondary. But culture, art, film, music, and literature speak to us on a much deeper level,” Joshua emphasized.

“We are also honored that the producer of our film, who is very busy, took time out of his schedule to come to Indonesia. I know he (Razi Jafri) is very excited to be here. He loves Indonesia so much. While you are watching the movie, please think of good questions, he is looking forward to your questions,” he added.

Afterwards, Razi Jafri and Joshua Shen were invited to the stage to receive souvenirs from FCS UB as well as take pictures with representatives of the dean and organizing committee.


After the photo session was conducted, Razi Jafri started to give an introduction to the movie that would be screened.

“Such an honor, guys, to be here with you to share my film. It explores democratic life in America’s first Muslim-majority city. Before you watch the movie, I want to say that being Muslim in America is a very complicated identity. There are different opinions and views in this movie, but there is also a lot of beauty in that diversity,” Razi explains.

“I’m really looking forward to having a discussion with all of you after this. Please feel free to ask me about anything,” he asks.

The documentary, which was released in 2020, followed the journey of Hamtramck mayoral and city council candidates with three different racial and cultural backgrounds: Polish, Bengali, and Yemeni. Viewers dived into each candidate’s ideals and ideas and take a closer look at how multiculturalism in Hamtramck society influenced the campaign process and election results. Although the film highlights issues of identity politics and democracy in society, it still presented emotional content and refreshing humor. The warmth in a small, diverse community was also well captured by this movie.

Time flies, thirty nine minutes had passed since the movie was screened. The movie came to an end. However, the fun didn’t stop here. The atmosphere became more lively when the audience was asked to take an interactive quiz about “Hamtramck, USA”. Razi enthusiastically documented the participants’ answers on the screen. The three participants with the highest scores were rewarded with gifts and photos with Razi Jafri.

The long-awaited discussion session finally started. The question and answer session was opened by an English Literature lecturer and moderator, Scarletina Vidyayani Eka, S.S, M.Hum. Once Scarletina welcomed the questions, one of the participants immediately raised his hand.

“What I saw in your movie is the ideal version of democracy. I think the more diverse a community is, the more horizontal conflicts will occur. While elections generally trigger tension and conflict, in your movie there was no such thing. Everything runs smoothly. Does the reality in Hamtramck match what is shown in your movie or is there actually some conflict between communities in the process?” he asked.

Razi answered the question by recounting the election process for Hamtramck’s mayor and city council a few years earlier.

“You pointed out something very important. In this movie, it looks like there is no problem. Everyone is living peacefully. The reality is that the mayoral candidate and the Muslim community experienced a lot of challenges and discrimination in the election process a few years ago,” Razi explained.


“The first person elected to the city council was a Bangladeshi. He experienced a lot of racism. He only served for one term, four years. But those four years were nightmares. In fact, he had to leave Hamtramck. But he was a trailblazer, paving the way for others to get involved in Hamtramck politics. Democracy and politics are always messy. But there are people who came before you, paving the way with hardship so that the current community can walk more easily,” he continued.

Scarletina invited more participants to ask questions, all of which were enthusiastically welcomed by Razi Jafri. In this discussion session, Razi Jafri also expressed his hopes for the younger generation, how he could not wait for the works of the generation that he considered far more critical than his generation.

The discussion session was closed with an expression of gratitude and thanks to Razi Jafri and a closing statement from the moderator.

“Talking about immigrants, this issue is not limited to a particular race. It is about the idea of humanity that we always strive for. To strive, live, and breathe life into our society. Thank you for voicing humanities!” Scarletina concluded. [trans.acl/ed.vidya/PR FCS]