RiverRun to Screen “Colleyville” Documentary on July 20 and 21

The RiverRun International Film Festival will host the East Coast premiere of the documentary “Colleyville” on Saturday, July 20 at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday, July 21 at 3:30 p.m. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Dani Menkin, “Colleyville” features never-before-seen video of a gripping real-life drama that unfolds during an 11-hour hostage standoff, testing resilience and courage of those involved in unimaginable ways.

RiverRun’s two screenings are free and open to the public. Registration to ensure availability is encouraged via the link HERE.

Sponsored by Temple Emanuel and Bill and Peggy Reingold, both screenings will take place at Marketplace Cinemas, which is located at 2095 Peters Creek Parkway in Winston-Salem. The screenings will include post-film discussions with Temple Emanuel Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and Menkin.

“This incredible documentary is of particular relevance to the Winston-Salem community because much of the film focuses on Temple Emanuel Rabbi Cytron-Walker, who moved to Winston-Salem a few months after the standoff took place in early 2022,” said RiverRun Executive Director Rob Davis. “Despite the well-known outcome of the hostage event, the documentary keeps viewers on the edges of their seats.

“We are so honored that RiverRun will host the East Coast premiere of the film, following its U.S. premiere at the Museum of Tolerance on June 23 in Los Angeles as part of the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival,” Davis added. “I believe there will be strong demand for tickets to our screenings, and I encourage those who are interested in experiencing ‘Colleyville’ to register for free tickets on RiverRun’s website as soon as possible.”

January 15, 2022, was a cold day in Colleyville, Texas, a suburb 15 miles north of Fort Worth. At Congregation Beth Israel that morning, only five men were present: Rabbi Cytron-Walker, Jeff Cohen, Shane Woodward, Larry Schwartz and a new guest, Malik Akram.

Akram, who appeared to be homeless, had knocked on the door that morning. Despite objections from Schwartz, who felt uneasy about the man, Cytron-Walker let him in. The guest was offered tea and then the service began. What happened next was witnessed by some congregation members who were attending via Zoom.

An hour after the Rabbi let him in from the cold, Akram pointed a gun at the praying men and took them hostage. Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen from a family who had immigrated from Pakistan, demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national and alleged al-Qaeda operative imprisoned in nearby Fort Worth.

Filmmaker Dani Menkin was at home in Los Angeles, glued to the news like many others around the world. Police monitored the security cameras as the drama unfolded, a live thriller with an unlikely hero. Rabbi Cytron-Walker kept cool and calm as he talked to the police and relayed Akram’s demands. After an 11-hour standoff, all the hostages were able to escape when Rabbi Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the gunman, distracting him long enough for everyone to get out of the building. Menkin was able to obtain both the security footage and recordings from the FBI and police for the documentary, and he interviewed the hostages and their families.

“After listening to Rabbi Charlie speak in front of his congregation, I fell in love with him and his steadfast loyalty to his values despite everything that happened. I think he represents the Jewish nation very well. The second thing is the special relationship this community has with the Muslim community in town,” Menkin said. “They have great relationships with all religions, but especially the Muslim one. I wanted to show that even during the hardest times, when the end didn’t seem to be good, the Muslim community reached out and came to support them. In a world where we often hear opposing stories, it was important to show this side.”