Film Series Introduction: I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door

Unless you're a full-blooded Native American, you're an immigrant or the descendant of immigrants.

You could even say that the journey to the New World is built into our DNA.

The experiences of our forefathers in coming to this country — and the struggles of today's immigrant — is the subject of The Golden Door film series playing in September at the Kansas City Public Library's Central Library.

It's presented in conjunction with the current exhibit Emma Lazarus: Voice of Liberty, Voice of Conscience. It was Lazarus who penned the words "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" emblazoned at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

The films — all free and playing at 1:30 Saturdays and 6:30 Mondays in the Durwood Film Vault — explore the many aspects of immigration, from the huge influx of new citizens from Europe at the turn of the last century to today's concern with illegal immigration from Latin America.

Represented in the series are works by established world-class filmmakers like Elia Kazan, Peter Weir and Barry Levinson, as well as efforts from promising newcomers like Ramin Bahrami and Patricia Riggen.

Some of these films are dead serious; others are comic.

But all offer insights into the immigrant's journey to become an American. For more insights into the films, check out Robert W. Butler's program notes right here on From the Film Vault.


About the Author

Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at He's married to the former Ellen Vaughan; they are the proud parents of LA-based comedian, writer, director and TV personality Blair Butler. He used to be a dog person but now lives with two cats, thus demonstrating the flexibility of the human condition.