Documentary of NYC pastor’s fight to end violence in Chicago gets Oscar buzz

Chicago America's Hidden War
Film poster for "Chicago: America's Hidden War," 2021

An upcoming faith-inspired film, titled “Chicago: America's Hidden War,” follows a pastor who risks his life to take a stand against violence in the deadliest state in the United States and now the documentary is being considered for an Academy Award. 

“We're thrilled to announce that our movie "Chicago: America's Hidden War" is being considered for an Oscar nomination in the Best Documentary Feature category,” the film's lead pastor, Dimas Salaberrios, wrote on social media. 

Salaberrios traveled to Chicago to fast and pray for the violence in Chicago to come to an end. His entire experience was documented along with real-life testimonies of victims, those at great risk such as children, and the staggering statistics of the war on the streets.

“Our mission is to turn apathy into empathy through education and exposure, so Americans will not see this is as Chicago's war, but as ‘Our War,’” he wrote. 

The documentary was produced by Salaberrios and his wife, Tiffany, through Miss Muffet Studios production company, which the couple founded. Miss Muffet Studios is a black-owned production studio in NYC that focuses on shining a light on serious matters that plague society.

According to the film’s synopsis, “Chicago America’s Hidden War pulls back the curtain to expose the pervasive genocidal-like behavior, explain what birthed and contributed to this war and why so little is done to stop it, and ultimately inspires a clear path toward change. It’s time for us all to unite and take a stand because this is no longer America’s Hidden War. This is Our War.” 

The film features firsthand testimonies from pastors, gangbangers, and children who say they only feel safe “in school and in the church” as violence continues to increase.

Salaberrios, a former drug Lord turned missionary from New York felt called to do something about the gun war in Chicago. Upon his arrival, he decided to go on a hunger strike until there was at least five days of peace in the prominent city. He lost 35 pounds before having to end his fast because that day did not come but what did happen was the pastor was able to rally together with other churches in Chicago, gang leaders and the local community who agreed to take steps toward peace. 

"When my family received the news that ‘Chicago: America's Hidden War’ hit the Oscars Best Documentary Feature List, joy entered the room,” Salaberrios told The Christian Post of the big news. “We yelled for several minutes because my whole family sacrificed so much to tell the truth about the war in Chicago." 

According to the statistic on the film’s website, 90.9% of deaths in Chicago during 2020 were the result of gun violence. Reports show that a person is shot every two hours and a person is killed every 10 hours. Just last month, the city recorded 51 homicides, the highest death toll for January in four years.

The executive producer of the film, Pastor A.R. Bernard, senior leader of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, is calling people of faith to action against the violence in Chicago.

“A team of dedicated individuals worked hard to express, in film, the gun violence that continues to eat away at the Black community,” Bernard wrote to CP on Monday. “We pray but we must also act!” 

Salaberrios also stressed that it’s time for Christians to be on the ground practicing what they were called to do. “Rwanda is happening on American soil; black people are being murdered,” he lamented.

The rate of black on black, Latino on Latino crime is alarming, and the film is designed to encourage people to get involved through mentoring programs and after school programs. The pastor, who founded Infinity New York Church, said the “mission field is now on our soil.”

Watch The Christian Post's full interview with Salaberrios below, where the pastor shared the heart behind the documentary and explained how over 100 churches were able to get on the streets of Chicago with the shooters, which caused the crime rate to drop over 20% in 12 months. 

The film's release date was postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Visit the website for additional information.

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