Crossing Arizona

Director: Joseph Mathew

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Tension along the Mexican/American border is one of the most rapidly escalating issues in the country today. Joseph Mathew's intimate and invaluably comprehensive documentary, Crossing Arizona, offers a balanced, up-to-the-minute look at the current crisis as it is developing at its hottest point—the Arizona/Sonora border.

Heightened security along the Texas and California borders funnels an estimated 4,500 undocumented migrants every day through the deadliest landscape in the country—Arizona's Sonora desert. The journey can take four days on foot, and the death toll is rapidly mounting. Crossers who survive often tap the resources of citizens and property owners in the area, triggering a range of impassioned responses and conflicted feelings about human rights, culture, class, and national security.

Focusing on personal stories of local people on both sides of the border whose lives are directly affected by Washington policies, Mathew follows a dynamic array of individuals: the U.S. Border Patrol, the citizen border-patrol group, Minutemen, Latino activists, and the emigrants themselves. Crossing Arizona is not only essential viewing to understand how a majestic corner of the country has transformed into a political hotbed and deadly immigration flashpoint; it also creates an opportunity to contemplate and question larger issues about the American society in which we live.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details


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