In a way, this journey started a long time ago, in 2004, when I came across an article in the New York Times about the rising migrant death toll in the Arizona desert. This led to a trip to the borderlands that changed everything for me. I spent the next two and a half years working on a documentary on the border. That film, Crossing Arizona, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. Through the film, I experienced firsthand a humanitarian disaster that was the direct result of policies enacted by the U.S. government.
While making the documentary, I started to think about a narrative film set in the borderlands. Documentary remains my passion but fiction offered the possibility of more control over story and drama. Also, the beautiful but treacherous deserts of the borderlands would make a great setting for a story.
After toying around with various ideas, I settled on a linear survival story of someone stranded in desert. While making the documentary I had witnessed the catastrophe of people dying in the desert. I had talked to people whose job was to locate the bodies, and I had met the doctors who had to autopsy the remains. I knew all about the slim chances of survival once you are lost in the desert.
Then there is the political climate surrounding immigration. I feel a personal responsibility to show the human side of immigration, the sacrifices people make and the risks they take to secure a better life for their children and families.
A feature film in development. Written and Directed by Joseph Mathew