Fremont, USA (2009)
Fremont, U.S.A. offers a glimpse of religious diversity on the local level: Fremont, California is a city transformed by new immigration. A rajagopuram rises in a tidy suburban neighborhood, announcing the vital presence of the Hindu community. The diversity of the global Buddhist community is also in evidence, as Thai, Chinese, and Burmese temples—and a women’s monastic retreat center—dot the landscape. Fremont is home to Peace Terrace, where Muslims and Christians have built side by side, and Gurdwara Road, where a large Sikh community engages in creative forms of outreach.
Through civic engagement and interfaith action, strangers have become neighbors in this American city. Yet Fremont has also faced real challenges, especially after 9/11. When Alia Ansari, a Muslim woman, is murdered, some wonder if it was a hate crime: Was she killed because of her headscarf? How will the wider community respond?
*The film, Fremont, USA is now available on Youtube. If you would like to purchase a copy of the DVD, please download and complete the order form.
- Director: Rachel Antell and Elinor Pierce
- Run-time: 57 minutes
- Introduction: The mayor, city council members, and police chief offer a brief introduction to the City of Fremont, California as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
- New Religious Landscape: As Fremont’s religious landscape has been transformed, new relationships are being forged in this multireligious city.
- Civic Engagement The City of Fremont: responds to its growing diversity, creating an innovative program for the elderly and responding to hate violence.
- New Challenges After 9/11: After 9/11, Fremont faces new challenges and develops unprecedented outreach and bridge-building efforts.
- Alia Ansari: When a Muslim woman is brutally murdered while walking to school with her young daughter, the Fremont community is called upon to respond.
- Fremont Moves Forward: Amidst challenge and change, citizens in Fremont look to the future.
About the Music
- “Filmmakers focus cameras on personal stories, societal issues,” Dover Post
- “A Round of Applause for Fremont, USA,” East Bay Express
- “Religious Diversity Explored at the Local Level,” Harvard Gazette
- “Fremont’s Story Hits the Big Screen,” The Argus
In addition to Fremont, USA East Coast premiere at Harvard University on March 5, 2009, the film has been screened in the following places.
- Ann Arbor Public Library, Michigan Community Scholars Program, Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 19, 2009
- 14th International Metropolis Conference, “Migration and Mobility,” Copenhagen, Denmark, September 15, 2009
- Culture & Cultures Intercultural Film Festival, Château de Padies, Lempaut, France, September 13, 2009
- “Living Faithfully in a Multireligious World,” Northern California Religious Leaders in Conversation, Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, California, September 8, 2009
- Globians Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, August 13, 2009
- North American Interfaith Network Connect, Kansas City, Missouri, June 27, 2009
- Hearts and Minds Film Festival, April 4, 2009, Dover, Delaware
- West Coast premiere: Fremont Alliance for a Hate-Free Community/Niles Congregational Church, Fremont, California, February 7, 2009,
- Preview screening: October 31, 2008, American Academy of Religion Meeting, Chicago, Illinois
- Since Fremont, USA was released in December 2008, the film has also been shown at high schools, universities, senior centers, houses of worship, community centers, conferences, and interfaith centers.
Case Study: The Alia Ansari Story
This excerpt from the film offers a case study exploring the murder of a Muslim woman in Fremont. Part 1 explains what happened and Part 2 covers the response of this religiously diverse community.
As you watch, consider the following questions:
- While one of the law enforcement officers states that the homicide was not a hate crime, why might members of the community still be afraid after the incident? How could a community respond to those fears?
- How can different religious groups share grief and support from within their own traditions?
- What should the role of local government be in a situation like this? Where do faith communities fit in?
City of Fremont Links
- City of Fremont, California Website
- City of Fremont: Demographics/Ethnicity
- Fremont’s Human Relations Commission
- Fremont Human Services Department
- 50th Anniversary of Fremont: Celebrate Fremont
- Museum of Local History
- Pastor Bruce Green’s Blog
Selected Houses of Worship and Organizations
- American Buddhist Cultural Society-Fremont (Buddhist)
- Dhammadharini Vihara (Buddhist)
- Mettananda Vihara (Buddhist)
- Wat Buddhanusorn (Buddhist)
- Centerville Presbyterian Church (Christian)
- St. Paul United Methodist Church (on Peace Terrace) (Christian)
- Fremont Hindu Temple/ Vedic Dharma Samaj (See also Pluralism Project center profile) (Hindu)
- Temple Beth Torah (Jewish)
- Masjid-e-Mohammedi (Muslim)
- Islamic Society of East Bay (on Peace Terrace) (Muslim)
- Islamic Center of Fremont (Muslim)
- Gurdwara Sahib Fremont (Sikh)
- Afghan Coalition
- Citizens for Better Community
- Indo-Americans for Better Community
- Jewish Community Relations Council
- Irvington High School
- Abode Services (formerly Tri-City Homeless Coalition)
- Community Ambassador Program for Seniors (CAPS)