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With her unmistakable style, Akerman examines the risks taken by undocumented immigrants from Mexico crossing over to Arizona. Exploring Agua Prieta, Mexico, Douglas, Arizona, and the desert in between, she mixes beautiful and evocative landscapes with interviews with the families of immigrants, American sheriffs, fearful locals, and advocates. In a post-9/11 America in the grips of rising xenophobia and in the midst of a contentious debate on border control, Akerman shows the hypocrisy and paranoia involved in U.S. immigration policy and its failure to acknowledge the economic dependence of the U.S. on undocumented laborers. - (Amy Taubin, Film Comment) A bonus disc will include another film by Chantal Akerman, South, a documentary that was originally planned as a meditation on the American south, inspired by Akerman s love of William Faulkner and James Baldwin, and intended to serve as both an echo and a counterpoint to her earlier documentary, From the East, a film made about a journey through Eastern Europe in the early nineties. However, the focus of the film was dramatically altered following a brutal murder that took place during its development. In Jasper, Texas, James Byrd Jr., an African-American man, was severely beaten by three white men, then chained to their truck and dragged three miles through the county. Akerman situates this hate crime within the context of the surrounding community and landscape, exploring the reactions of the citizens in Jasper and allowing the story to unfold on its own in a pensive and respectful fashion.
Stunning! As human testimony [it's] unforgettably forceful. --Stuart Klawans, The Nation
A spare, painterly and scrupulously unsentimental look at the plight of illegal Mexican immigrants massed at the United States border. Both eerily beautiful and filled with a quiet compassion. --Dave Kehr, The New York Times
Chilling! Stunningly composed... In a few deft interviews [the film] shows the hypocrisy and paranoia involved in U.S. immigration policy and its failure to acknowledge the economic dependence of the U.S. on undocumented laborers. --Film Comment