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Directed by Chantal Akerman

Belgium, France, Australia, Finland 2002 99 mins. In French

On the Mexico-US border, the twin towns of Agua Prieta, Sonora and Douglas, Arizona—far from the population centers of Juarez/El Paso or Tijuana/San Diego—are home to both hopeful, persistent immigrants and resilient, spiteful permanent residents. As with most of Akerman’s documentary work, she brings a keen, searching eye to this most barren of places, in the process accumulating crucial testimonies from immigrants in search of a better life, away from the war-torn countries from which they flee; and, on the opposite side of the border, with those who seem to want nothing more than for those immigrants not to reach their final destination. Intercut with pensive tracking shots of the foreboding Sonoran desert, illustrating the brutality of the landscape, Akerman’s portrait of place and people is one of her most somberly poetic works in a career filled with exactly that. “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.” —Amy Taubin, Film Comment.