Light in the Darkness Community Screening Guide | Not in Our Town

Light in the Darkness Community Screening Guide

Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness Community Screening Guide


Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness is a PBS documentary about a town taking action after anti-immigrant violence devastates their community.

In 2008, a series of attacks against Latino residents of Patchogue, New York culminate with the hate crime killing of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who had lived in the Long Island village for 13 years. Seven local teenagers were arrested for the attack and one was charged with murder.  Over a two-year period, the story follows Mayor Paul Pontieri, the victim’s brother, Joselo Lucero, and Patchogue residents as they openly address the underlying causes of the violence, work to heal divisions, and begin taking steps to ensure everyone in their village will be safe and respected.

The documentary leaves the viewer with the question: “What will you do to stop hate in your town?”

Guide Overview

This  guide outlines tips community members and organizations can use to plan a local Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness screening event.

For additional resources, including a film discussion guide, sample press release, logos, and newsletter copy, please visit our Screening Kit section.

A Light in the Darkness screening is an opportunity to bring together your diverse community to understand who is vulnerable to hate, learn from one another, and work towards safety and inclusion for all.

1) Reach out to build your audience

 Light in the Darkness features a range of people taking positive action against hate and intolerance. Use the characters in the film as a starting point for building your audience, and reach out to immigrants, local librarians, longtime residents, law enforcement, elected officials, educators, and faith leaders in your town.

Remember to include youth in your list of invitees. Though Light in the Darkness tells the story of a hate crime murder by high school students, young leaders played a key role in organizing their community’s response to the crime. Ask students and youth groups to help plan and take part in the screening discussion.

2) Partner with local groups

A screening of Light in the Darkness is also an opportunity to build connections among diverse groups in your town. Reach out to civil rights groups, faith groups, Latino or immigrant organizations, student groups, service organizations, PTAs, public media outlets, unions, museums, and libraries. These organizations can help promote your screening by word of mouth, events, newsletters, blogs, and social media.

Suggested resources:

Recruiting Participants for Community Conversations, National Center for Media Engagement

Light in the Darkness Discussion Guide

3) Select a facilitator

Facilitators can help the audience understand the lessons of the film and move to taking action in their community. A good facilitator is articulate, aware of the subject, familiar with the community, and maintains a positive tone without getting derailed by individuals or groups with other agendas. A good facilitator promotes constructive discussion without taking over.

Suggested resources:

Tips for Finding a Facilitator, National Center for Media Engagement

Light in the Darkness Discussion Guide

4)  Choose a central, accessible venue

In Not In Our Town: Light In the Darkness, the Patchogue-Medford Library serves as a safe haven for the local immigrant community, as well as a place for healing and community participation. Consider your local library as a potential screening venue. Other accessible locations include local theaters, university/college lecture halls, school auditoriums, churches and synagogues, union halls, public media, and government buildings.

In addition to physical accessibility, consider language accessibility for members of the community who may attend.  An interpreter should be used if your facilitator(s) cannot speak the languages represented in your audience. Closed captioned DVDs of the film are also available.

5) Spread the word

- Personal invitations: Bring along event flyers to recruit in gathering places such as cafes, libraries, sporting events, or other public spots. Ask representatives from partner organizations to personally invite their constituents, coworkers, families, neighbors, and friends and announce the event in newsletters, websites, and bulletin boards.

- Postcards, flyers, and posters: Post announcements in places where a cross-section of your community gathers, like your local post office, grocery store, mall, community center or town hall. Send out postcards about 4 weeks prior to your event. Visit the Screening Kit page for posters, flyers, and graphics to use in your outreach. 

- Local media: Promote your screening with calendar listings and articles in your local newspaper, local news blogs and websites, community and ethnic press, and on radio. Find out from your local media how long before your event they need information, and send them a press release in time. Be sure to invite reporters and bloggers to cover the screening.

Suggested resource:

Sample Light in the Darkness screening press release [Word Document]


- Email and social media: Send out two email reminders: the first at least 4-5 weeks in advance of  your event, and then a reminder several days before. Posting your screening as a Facebook event and sharing it with your contacts can also help spread the word.

Suggested resources:

- Light in the Darkness Screening Kit

- Not In Our Town Facebook page

7) Move from dialogue to action

The goal of Not In Our Town  screenings and discussions is to spark long-term community efforts to create safe, inclusive environments for everyone.  Let your screening attendees know that this is just a beginning. Here are other ideas for taking action in your town, as part of the NIOT Week of Action and beyond:

  • Organize a rally or vigil in support of safety and acceptance for everyone
  • Create a civic proclamation opposing hatred and affirming inclusion
  • Organize a community photo for the Not In Our Town digital quilt
  • Start a “One Book/One Community” club with your local library
  • Get to know your neighbors at a potluck or event


For more information and tips on planning these activities, visit or email  


Planning Checklist

Adapted from Out in the Silence Event Planning Checklist. Used with permission.

1. Preliminary planning – 4-5 weeks before

  • Book the venue and  decide on a date for your screening.
  • Determine event facilitator, speakers and panelists.
  • Reach out to partner organizations.

2. Logistics  and initial outreach – 3-4 weeks before

  • Visit our Screening Kit section for graphics you can use to publicize your screening.
  • Use our sample press release with your local press, including print, radio, television, blogs, ethnic & community media. Download a sample press release here.
  • Secure a “Light in the Darkness” DVD and other audio-visual equipment
  • Create an agenda for your event.

3. Continued planning – 2 weeks before

  • Create an email announcement about your event. Send your first email 2 weeks before, and a follow-up announcement 2-3 days before the screening. Download a sample email announcement here.
  • Contact community calendars about your screening.

4. Media outreach – 10 days before

  • Send out press releases to media outlets. Download a sample press release here.
  • Make calls to local television and radio programs.

5. Final planning – 3-4 days before

  • Set up your DVD and projector and test screen your DVD.
  • Send your second email announcement.
  • Follow-up with local press about event details.

6. Finalize your agenda. 2-3 days before

  • Make copies of materials to distribute at the event.

7. At your screening:

  • Encourage people to sign up for your email list as they arrive.
  • Have a timekeeper so that everyone stays within their allotted time.
  • Take photos.
  • Enlist a note-taker to write down next steps.
  • Have information about partner organizations and anti-hate groups available as a resource if people are inspired to take action.

8.  Share your story

After your screening, tell us what you’ve done! Visit to post details about your event, post photos on the NIOT Facebook page, or email You can also learn from groups around the country who are starting their own Not In Our Town community campaigns.