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Community Cinema offers free screening of 'Las Marthas' in North Little Rock Jan. 7

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), UALR Public Radio/KUAR FM 89.1 and William F. Laman Library invite the public to a free screening of "Las Marthas" as part of Community Cinema Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 6:30 p.m. The screening will be held in the library's auditorium.

"Las Marthas" enjoys unprecedented access to an exclusive border celebration in honor of George Washington, where Mexican American debutantes dress as American Revolutionaries. Every February, one of the largest celebrations of George Washington's birthday in the world takes place in the border town of Laredo, Texas. This 116-year-old tradition has evolved into an entire month of inventive reenactments and bicultural celebrations, many of them involving Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, their sister city across the border. The most preeminent event of them all, however, is the invitation-only Colonial Ball hosted by the elite Society of Martha Washington.

Society daughters, most of them Mexican American, are invited to debut in elaborate Colonial gowns representing iconic figures from America's revolutionary history. Their goal: to recreate a party hosted by Martha Washington, but this time set on the US/Mexico border. "Las Marthas" follows two of the young debutantes - one a prominent member of Laredo society and the other a newcomer from Mexico - as they prepare for this extraordinary rite of passage.

A fascinating look at a world barely known outside of Texas, "Las Marthas" unravels the origins of the celebration and explores why a town like Laredo, with such deep Mexican roots, feels such affinity for America's Founding Father, and how despite all odds the Washington's Birthday Celebration has managed to persevere and even flourish, thanks to the Mexican American girls who continue to wear the gilded burden of tradition.

The screening will be held in the auditorium of William F. Laman Public Library, 2801 Orange Street, North Little Rock. A community discussion led by panelists will follow the screening. Additional information is available by calling AETN at 800-662-2386 or visiting aetn.org/communitycinema.

Community Cinema, a free monthly screening series engaging communities through films produced by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), features monthly screenings followed by panel discussions with leading organizations, local communities and special guest speakers. The program is designed to help people learn about and get involved in the social issues raised in the documentaries.

The mission of the William F. Laman Public Library is to maintain and improve the quality of life for the community by providing resources that enhance and contribute to literacy and foster community engagement with information, culture and civic life.

The mission of UALR Public Radio is to deepen insight into the human experience, empower decision-making and enrich the lives of those we serve through quality news and cultural programs. UALR Public Radio operates two radio stations in Little Rock - KUAR FM 89.1, which broadcasts news, jazz and cultural programs including national programming from NPR, and KLRE 90.5, which broadcasts classical music.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).

AETN.org > Engage > Pressroom > Community Cinema offers free screening of 'Las Marthas' in North Little Rock Jan. 7