In front of a standing-room-only crowd in Orndorff Theater on Tuesday, April 2, film director Dan DeVivo presented his award-winning 2006 project “Crossing Arizona,” a documentary that focuses on the impact of Mexican immigrants along the southern Arizona border.
DeVivo, who co-produced and co-directed “Crossing Arizona” alongside Joseph Mathew, traveled to Arizona to film the movie. They captured the social, political, economic and — in many cases, the most evident — emotional impact of undocumented immigrants.
The film has received a great deal of acclaim, having been featured at the Sundance Film Festival, International Film Festival of Mexico, the Munich Film Festival and numerous other national and international venues.
The late film critic Roger Ebert described it as “one film I especially admired.”
Before the movie was shown, DeVivo, a graduate of Harvard, introduced himself and the premise of the project. He described it as being a mission “designed to encourage us all to think about these extremely controversial issues.”
His inspiration came after the U.S. began its involvement in Iraq in 2003. DeVivo felt that the government lied to the American people after discovering there were no weapons of mass destruction.
“What else is the government telling us that isn’t necessarily true?” He asked.
And with that, he moved to Arizona to tell the story of border towns dealing with immigration issues.
The film followed the lives of several ordinary Arizonia residents caught within the midst of immigration from various perspectives.
A former schoolteacher-turned newspaper company owner did everything in his power to turn undocumented Mexican immigrants away, while a prominent Native American provided water throughout his desert reservation in order to save them from dehydration and eventual death.
Others, including a widow and young political activist, exchanged words in heated debates and talked with passion to reporters.
Organizations such as “Protect Arizona Now” and “Civil Homeland Defense” gave in-depth accounts of their anti-immigration rallies and reconnaissance missions.
“Humane Borders” attempted to limit the amount of human remains left in the desert through providing water and medical care to those trekking through the 100-plus-degree temperatures.
DeVivo followed the 80-minute film with commentary on his experiences. He explained he now lives in Phoenix because he became attached to the people and issues in Arizona. Prior to that, he lived in New York City.
He explained his belief that the government should have a greater say in the issues surrounding immigration, something he hopes will be accomplished through the current bipartisan proposals in Congress.
“It is the failure of the federal government to improve immigration in Arizona in a holistic way. Our country has an obligation to work with the nations that border us,” DeVivo said.
For more information on the film, or to order a copy of the DVD, visit www.crossingaz.com
DeVivo is currently working on another film titled “Two Americans,” which, according to www.twoamericans.com, is about “an American family living in the shadows of a state that has criminalized their existence.”