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Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

CONTACT: Susan Baukhages, Director for Communications, 410/230-2791
fax: 410/230-2890, email:


Court TV(r) Original Film Chasing Freedom, starring Juliette Lewis, Premieres Nationally January 19
LIRS Invites Lutherans To Host Group Film Viewings And Participate In Advocacy

BALTIMORE, January 6, 2004-Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is joining a wide range of national and local organizations across the country in using Court TV(r)'s upcoming original movie, Chasing Freedom, to raise awareness among Lutherans and other Americans on a host of issues related to political asylum.

As a national partner of the Chasing Freedom Campaign, spearheaded by Cambridge, Mass.-based Active Voice, LIRS and its partner agencies around the country will host sneak preview screenings of the film to draw public attention to asylum issues and to foster discussion and action in local communities. Chasing Freedom will premiere January 19, 2004 in a nation-wide broadcast on Court TV (8:00 pm EST, check local listings).

LIRS encourages Lutheran church groups and others of good will to take this unique opportunity to foster local debate on pressing issues including problems in the legal process for gaining asylum, the detention of asylum seekers in jail-like conditions and the critical need for legal representation for these vulnerable newcomers. A discussion guide produced by Active Voice and devotional materials for churches will be available on the LIRS website. America: A Freedom Country, a companion storybook published by LIRS, will also be available for download in PDF format. Visit for more details.

"Court TV's new movie Chasing Freedom reminds us not only of the peril asylum seekers face when they flee war and persecution in search of freedom, but of our responsibility as a country to greet them with humanity and justice when they arrive on our shores," says LIRS President Ralston H. Deffenbaugh Jr. "I hope this film will move the hearts of Lutherans and other Americans to join us in our work toward a more just process for those seeking political asylum. We need a system that keeps us secure and provides a safe haven for vulnerable people fleeing persecution. We can and we must do both."

Inspired by true events, Chasing Freedom tells the story of Libby Brock and her client Meena. Libby is an ambitious corporate lawyer who is awakened to the world of bureaucracy and injustice when she reluctantly takes on the pro-bono case of a young Afghan woman seeking political asylum. Fearing for her life, Meena has escaped the oppressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan only to find herself caught in the web of the American immigration system's bureaucracy. The movie depicts Libby's fight to win Meena political asylum in the United States, with a sobering portrayal of the nearly insurmountable obstacles that asylum seekers face. Court TV worked closely with the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in the development of the screenplay for Chasing Freedom.

About Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), the U.S. Lutheran expression of service to refugees and migrants in America, has been bringing new hope and new life to newcomers since 1939. In partnership with a national network of affiliates, partners, congregations and volunteers, LIRS resettles refugees, protects unaccompanied refugee children, advocates for fair and just treatment of asylum seekers, and seeks alternatives to detention for those who are incarcerated during their immigration proceedings. With initiative and sound stewardship, LIRS seeks creative and lasting solutions to the needs of uprooted people regardless of their race, ethnicity or religious beliefs.

About Active Voice (

Active Voice is a team of strategic communication specialists who put powerful, socially relevant films to work for personal and institutional change in communities, workplaces and campuses across America. Through partnerships, forums, guides, training, panels, workshops and small group facilitation, Active Voice taps the transforming power of film. Formerly known as the Television Race Initiative, which was generously funded by the Ford Foundation, Active Voice is a division of independent media innovator American Documentary Inc. Since its inception in 1998, Active Voice has worked with more than 20 documentaries whose issues range from affirmative action to the World War II internment of Japanese Americans to contemporary migration.

About Court TV (

Court TV-The Investigation Channel(tm), is the leader in the investigation genre, providing a window on the American system of justice through distinctive programming that both informs and entertains. It is widely recognized for its commitment to socially relevant programming and public affairs. The network's last film, "The Interrogation of Michael Crowe," received the coveted Peabody Award, and a documentary based on the same topic won the prestigious Columbia duPont Journalism award. Court TV telecasts trials by day and high-profile original programs like "Forensic Files" and popular off-network series like "NYPD Blue" in the evening. Court TV is 50 percent owned by TimeWarner and 50 percent owned by Liberty Media Corp. The network is seen in almost 80 million homes.