In the final days before the world premiere of his new documentary, “They Come to America,” at Guild Hall on Saturday, Dennis Michael Lynch was “bombarded with requests for tickets,” he said.
In the film, Mr. Lynch offers both a local perspective on the illegal immigration debate, and a view of conditions along the United States-Mexico border.
He shut his Web site down at 3:25 p.m. on Saturday so there would be a few tickets left for those planning to buy them at the door, but could not please all of those who stood in line. Many were turned away, and expressed their disappointment. The theater was at capacity, and people were sitting on folding chairs. “The response was more than I expected,” he said.
The evening’s post-screening Q and A, moderated by John Roland, a former Fox News reporter, resulted in some heated discussions among audience members, and panelists as well.
Knowing the passions of Mike Cutler, a retired member of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and Bill Streppone, an immigration attorney, both on the panel, Mr. Lynch had predicted that the two could only contain themselves for so long.
The issue elicits strong opinions, and audience members wanted to voice theirs, too. Some who took the microphone had statements of opinion, rather than questions, but Mr. Lynch made it a point to answer every question asked, even from those he felt were attacking him. “Everyone is entitled to answers,” he said.
All the money raised from sales of both of his film DVDs “King of the Hamptons” and “They Come to America” on Saturday evening — $750 — was sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Mr. Lynch said Tuesday.
The filmmaker’s next stop was Washington, D.C., on Monday. “I was contacted by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration,” he said. He went to meet Emily Sanders, a White House staff member, in person to discuss her idea of showing the film to members of Congress and staff, and organizing a roundtable discussion afterward.
Since the premiere, Mr. Lynch said he has been flooded with e-mails and has been asked to organize more local screenings. The film is scheduled to be shown in Arizona tomorrow through next Thursday, and then in Florida and Kentucky.