ABOUT THE FILM
WHO'S NEXT? is a feature length documentary (86 minutes) that examines the effects of hate speech and bigotry on the lives of Muslim Americans living in New York City post 9/11, and especially during the Trump Presidency. The film encourages viewers to choose knowledge over ignorance while getting to know those who may be different from them, so that the challenges of marginalized communities can be effectively addressed. As a Jewish American who was a child during WWII, director Nancy Cooperstein Charney was inspired to make this film by the poem ascribed to the Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemöller, "First they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I was not a socialist, then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist, then they came for the jews and I did not speak out because I was not a jew - then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me."
I grew up in America during the Second World War with parents and grandparents who had escaped the pogroms in Russia just a few decades earlier. Antisemitism was rampant during my childhood; “You killed Jesus” a common slur hurled at me in the streets, sometimes accompanied by the contents of someone's drink.
Our family was at the center of the Jewish community in my small town - Fall River, Massachusetts; and many nights that community would gather in our living room asking one another questions about their sons - my uncles - who were in Germany fighting the war. I would hide in a corner trying to listen until my grandma would see me and carry me up to bed.
And then the dream would come. German soldiers would march down the corridor to my bedroom about to get me and I’d wake up screaming.
Decades later, I had that dream again only this time the boots were on American feet and the family in the living room was a Muslim one, like the one President Trump started to talk about banning from our country. It felt to me that the Muslim community was now being attacked in a way reminiscent of the way we Jews had been attacked in America during the Second World War, all those years ago. And thus - my march to make this film.
It is my hope that the film WHO’S NEXT? Will help people understand that our similarities and mutual longing for peace and community are what should bring us together. A simple act of kindness done by enough people can change the world. When one community is targeted, your own may be next. When one of us is in danger, we are all in danger. WHO’S NEXT?