It’s easy to believe that hate is wrong. Overcoming it is a whole other beast. An Iraq War veteran’s prejudice is tested in Christopher Capelluto’s short film, Park 51.
In 2010, outrage grew as a planned mosque, known as Park 51, was going to be built in close proximity to 9/11 ground zero. Anger over the bold move intensified as violence began against local Muslim-owned businesses in the area. Matt (Graham Powell) is an Iraq War veteran who lives day-to-day with his head down and reliving his trauma every night at home.
“The stitched-up Amir seeks out Matt at work with an offer of goodwill.”
On this fateful evening, Matt passes by a liquor store owned by Amir (Al Nazemian), whose storefront is being vandalized by a bunch of thugs as a warning to anyone supporting the mosque. Matt steps in to stop the assault, but not before being beaten and Amir gets stabbed. Fight or flight kicks in, and Matt runs off, leaving Amir to bleed out. Later, Matt processes the assault as only he can… alcohol. The stitched-up Amir seeks out Matt at work with an offer of goodwill. Matt would instead be left alone.
To say that even today, tempers run high from 9/11 on both sides of the issue would be an understatement. Trust is nowhere to be found. For most Americans, the attack on the World Trade Center is forever engrained in our minds. The Muslim community is hyper-aware that they are unjustifiably blamed and targeted for the attacks. Capelluto brings empathy to both sides and wonders if peace can ever be found. Park 51 is a simple short film relying on fantastic performances from Powell and Nazemian, as finding common ground is not easy for their characters.
Park 51 is a fitting short film to watch as we commemorate the solemn events of 9/11. For the greater good, it takes no sides. If peace is ever to be found, we all have to take a breath and place ourselves in one another’s shoes.
"…if peace is ever to be found, we all have to take a breath..."