KALISPELL – Protesters who rallied last month against a film about Nazi Germany will once again gather in opposition to a controversial World War II movie – this time with a showing of their own.
The dueling documentaries will take place across the street from one another Saturday afternoon – the white separatists at the Kalispell Library, and everyone else at the downtown KM Building.
“Last month, we rallied in the street,” said protest organizer Ina Albert. “This time, everyone’s banding together to make something positive.”
At the library, the white nationalists – who have said they hope to make Kalispell “a homeland for white people” – will watch the third in a series of movies about Nazi Germany. This installment focuses on one of Hitler’s most famous deputies, and is titled “The Life and Death of My Father: Rudolph Hess.”
Previous movies debated the truth of the Holocaust and profiled the Waffen SS, the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.
Albert is responding across the street with “Paper Clips,” a documentary about a Tennessee school where students collected 6 million paper clips as a way to understand how many people died in Nazi concentration camps.
The paper clips came in from all over the world, Albert said, and eventually a Holocaust survivor donated a railroad car that had been used to carry Jews to the camps at Auschwitz. That railcar now is the centerpiece of a memorial, located on the Tennessee school grounds.
“We want to make sure that we state clearly the vision that we have for the Flathead Valley,” Albert said, “which is positive and inclusive and welcoming.”
Previously, she said, protesters have reacted to the white nationalists with slogans such as “no hate here.” By adopting a new motto – “love lives here” – Albert says the locals hope to take a stand for tolerance, rather than against intolerance.
“It puts things in our terms, and not in their terms,” she said.
About 300 protesters turned out to rally against the last white nationalist movie, and Albert said she hopes 100 or more come to the Saturday showing of “Paper Clips.” During the past two months, about 10 white nationalists have attended the movies at the library.
Both shows begin at 1 p.m., with a short musical gathering scheduled at the KM building before the movie.
“We need to act,” Albert said, “and we need to band together as a community to create an alternative.”
Silence, she said, is too often interpreted as acceptance, allowing “hate to gain a foothold.”
During last month’s protest, local Pastor Darryl Kistler told the crowd “we demonstrate today so that we hopefully can engage with (the separatists) at some point tomorrow.”
Tomorrow, Albert said, has arrived, and the newly organized community is engaging, finally, with a message of its own.
“Love lives here in the Flathead Valley,” she said. “We think that’s a very powerful and positive message.”
Both showings are free to the public.