Thursday, December 9, 2010

Border realities, policies focus of film trifecta

Arizona Daily Star
December 9, 2010
by Phil Villarreal

Several groups that support human-rights and environmental causes in the border region have joined forces to stage a free documentary triple feature at the Loft Cinema.

"Wild vs. Wall," a 2009 film on the environmental impact of border policies, will lead off the night. "Fencing the Border and its Birds," from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in which U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials express concerns about the impact the border fence will have on animals, is second. HBO's "The Fence," which features interviews with people on various sides of border issues, closes out the event.

The total running time for the films is two hours.

The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, CoaliciĆ³n de Derechos Humanos, the Defenders of Wildlife, No More Deaths and the Sky Island Alliance are sponsoring the screening, which will be followed by a panel discussion with a border landowner and representatives from the sponsoring organizations.

Dan Millis, a 31-year-old campaign organizer for the Sierra Club, is one of the event coordinators, and he spoke to us about the films. Millis, a graduate of Lewis and Clark College, is from Flagstaff but has lived in Tucson since 2005.

Tell me about the movies.

" 'Wild vs. Wall' was originally produced here in Tucson in 2008 by filmmaker Steev Hise, through the grass-roots efforts of locals who are concerned about threats to our border environment. It has been recently updated for 2010 and beyond, and we are excited to share the new footage, information and Spanish subtitles featured in this most recent version."

What about the others?

"The Cornell Ornithology Lab has some amazing footage of beautiful bird species along the border, and at only seven minutes long, the short makes a wonderful opener. Rory Kennedy's 'The Fence' is a masterful production that highlights the pointlessness, expense, impact and hypocrisy of the border wall, using humor and a fast pace to keep the audience involved. It is amazing, and we're very pleased to be able to share it with Tucson."

Do you have plans for future festivals like this?

"We don't have any specific plans for future screenings, though we regularly present 'Wild vs. Wall' to community groups locally, nationally, even abroad. During the month of November, for example, I traveled to Hermosillo and Denver to show the film at a biology conference and at a church event."

What concept do you want viewers to take away from the event?

"There is a big disconnect between how the border is often portrayed in the media, and the reality on the ground. Folks who watch these films will get a taste of how wonderful the protected natural areas along the border really are.

"It would be hard to watch these films and not question the knee-jerk policies that are currently militarizing our borderlands. In about an hour total, these three films will hopefully inspire folks to help us look for a better way to protect our precious border wildlands."


• What: Border Film Festival, a program of three short documentaries.

• When: 11 a.m. Saturday

• Where: The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway.

• Admission: Free, but donations to the Sierra Club's Borderlands Campaign will be accepted.

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