News reports of thousands of immigrants being deported after their contribution to making America great again dominate on a daily basis. As annoyed or shocked as we are about these actions brought about by our current administration, nothing compares to the 1,200 immigrant copper miners snatched from their homes and left to die in the middle of the Bisbee, Arizona desert. Directed by Robert Green, Bisbee ’17 follows the 21st century community of this small mining ghost town as they reenact the 100 anniversary uncovering personal stories and complex family histories along the way.
Watching this town put themselves in the shoes of these immigrants, who some of which had migrated from Mexico to start a new life is gut-wrenching. Especially when it’s divulged that the townspeople literally made up a “law of necessity” to justify their cruelty in splitting up families and discarding immigrants after they accomplished getting cheap labor.
The most prolific scene for me was when two townsmen who were involved as actors of the re-enactment exchange polite un-pleasantries. In response to a rather racist remark from the white actor, the Mexican actor very gracefully and powerfully explains that most immigrants are victims of white people taking and claiming land as their own. Harsh, but true. The intentional use of hymns, particularly the Battle Hymn of the Republic being sung as immigrants were being forced out-of-town really struck a haunting chord.
But, the most mind-blowing piece of Bisbee history exposed is the blatant making up of a “Law of Necessity” just rid the town of immigrants isn’t too far-fetched than what we are experiencing now with our current administration, immigration and detention centers. Funny, how history repeats itself if not corrected.
Bisbee ’17 is a history lesson laced with the question of how much is too much when it comes to a lack of humanity over someone who doesn’t look like you. Having had successful runs at Sundance and AFI DOCS film festivals, Bisbee ’17 will open September 5th in New York at Film Forum, September 28th in Los Angeles and San Francisco and rolling out nationwide shortly thereafter.