Border, a new independent documentary film confronting the hot topic of illegal immigration along the Mexican border is receiving rave reviews on college campuses. Border films what is really happening in the southwest. No editing, not commentary from one person, this film is an up close and personal encounter with the volunteer Minutemen, Border Patrol agents, Mexican immigrants (illegal and legal) and local ranchers.
The film was written and directed by one-time dancer for the Duluth Ballet Company turned Hollywood cowboy, Chris Burgard. He told Accuracy in Academia that his inspiration for making the movie came from seeing so many changes, mostly negative, in Southern California. “Our schools have gone from one of the top in the country to 48. We have lost 88 hospitals in California. The fellows that I knew that were here from Mexico told me about rapes and drug violence on the border. The President called the Minutemen vigilantes. My wife told me to stop complaining, get off the couch, and go see for myself. I needed to find to find out the truth… For my kid’s sake, if nothing else.”
So far Burgard has been getting a great response from people on both sides of the political spectrum. Even progressive newspapers such as Wisconsin’s Capitol Times and The Onion have given the movie great reviews. He said the movie has been tested all over the country and the only people who think it is “conservative” are in Hollywood. Go figure.
The movie debuted during last month’s Wisconsin Film Festival at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In fact, the movie was the official selection of the WFF and screened in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Theatre, which Burgard said, was “Quite an honor.”
“The audience responded really well to the film,” Burgard says. He admits that he wasn’t quite sure what kind of reaction he would receive. “I made the film to capture a time and event in U.S. history. An event that many try to paint as conservative… I was elated that our students, academic and liberal audiences get what is going on when they have an opportunity to see the truth.”
However, not everyone in the audience agreed. Burgard cites one audience member, whom he described as a “fifty something activist type”, as the first member during the Q & A time to make a statement more than ask a question. He said the lady accused him of not covering corporate and government recruiting of workers in Mexico. Burgard explained that it was covered by Isabel Garcia in the labor section of the movie. “She just got angry, and when I mentioned that she seemed angry, she got more confrontational.” The audience rose to Burgard’s defense and pushed to move on with the Q & A time; the lady and her partner finally got up and left as the crowd continued to boo at them.
Border was also shown at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, Burgards’ alma mater. He said the audience of around sixty people was split across the board with students, faculty and administration present. One audience participant of Mexican descent challenged Burgard by asking him why he “made all the Mexicans in the movie look like villains.” He admits to being stunned by the question, but with the help of the audience he went through the movie and pointed out scenes that negated her earlier statement. The girl finally agreed with them and said she had just “wished there were more Mexican people in the movie.” It just shows you how “she sees the world through prejudiced eyes,” Burgard commented.
Overall, Burgard said both audiences, despite the various perspectives on how illegal immigration should be handled, were ALL in agreement that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and securing the border is the first step.
He hopes to continue raising awareness on the college level by showing the movie on a college circuit in the future.
Not only has Burgard gained attention in the University realm, he also held a screening for members of Congress back in February. A majority of the staffers present said they really enjoyed the film, though some from the conservative side criticized the film for the way the remarks were presented regarding President Bush, as well as comments on uncooperative leadership that made the final credits. Burgard was pleased with the event but said he found it very disappointing that no Democratic leaders attended the screening.
“I want a real debate in this country on the border security and immigration,” said Burgard. “I want an educated, national dialogue based on facts and reality, not spin and propaganda. The American people have been purposely misled and turned against each other on these issues. I want them to start asking why. I want America to remember what it feels like to be a united and informed citizenry.”
Burgard also has some advice for college students, “Question everything! What we are being told by government and media is not what is happening. They need to be held accountable, through votes, dialogue, writing and the power of the camera. Beware of the spin! Search out the answers for yourself.”
You can find more information on this movie at www.bordermovie.com
Wendy Cook is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia.