Change cannot come without debate. Filmmaker Chris Burgard’s new documentary, BORDER, which takes an impartial look at the agonizing issue of our porous southern U.S. border, can go a long way towards fostering debate, discussion and, hopefully, a more balanced outlook towards a national problem that has polarized America.
A Wisconsin native, Chris is an amalgam of different worlds. He’s an ex-ballet dancer, rodeo bull rider, Hollywood stuntman and film director. On the surface, you see a driven outdoorsman and cowboy, but his passion for children and his concern for their future is what drives him as a filmmaker. His odyssey to complete BORDER began innocently enough when he was repairing a fence with a group of day laborers, who it turned out were illegal immigrants. They talked about their own odyssey in coming to the United States and it peaked Chris’s curiosity. Like most Americans, he had only a basic understanding of illegal immigration, how thousands arrive in this country every month, the role the Minutemen were playing in patrolling the border and how illegal immigration was impacting millions of Americans and Mexicans. He decided to go see for himself.
The images were startling. Rape trees where the panties of young immigrant women were hung as trophies after they were assaulted by their “coyote” escorts. Immigrant men found in the desert barely alive with no water for days. Acres and acres of garbage strewn on American land near popular crossing points. Frustrated and fearful American ranchers who live on the border where their
property is assaulted constantly - fences are torn down, cattle are spooked,
and crimes by Mexican para-military groups and drug runners are rampant. Illegal immigrants sneaking across the border with illegal drugs and armed military escorts. And “Minutemen” volunteers who are vilified by taking the law into their own hands, but who are working closely with the grossly outmanned U.S. Border Patrol to identify and track illegals.
There are no pat solutions to our border issue. However, films like BORDER serve a purpose by fostering debate and providing audiences with a clearer look at the human cost of this tragedy.