The 2019 SXSW Film Festival is almost upon us and we can’t wait to have you here! Before you make your way down to Austin, TX, get to know films from our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series. Dive into our Q&A with director Ben Masters, as he tells us about his film The River and the Wall, which World Premiere in the Documentary Spotlight screening section.
In your own words, what does this film mean to you?
Ben Masters: I’ve spent years of my life working on ranches and filming wildlife and landscapes along the Texas-Mexico border. The prospect of a Border Wall is so personal to me. Selfishly, The River and The Wall was a way for me to go out and see the landscapes of the Rio Grande with my own eyes before further construction of a wall and to cherish the landscapes that I love so deeply before they’re potentially changed forever. The film means so much to me because the footage that we captured and the stories that we tell might be part of the historical documentation of the borderlands that future generations will look at the see.
What motivated you to tell this story?
BM: The threat of a border wall destroying landscapes and negatively impacting wildlife was the primary motivation behind The River and The Wall.
What do you want the audience to take away?
BM: I want people to realize that the Texas-Mexico border is so much more than a black line on the map. Along with the Rio Grande being the fourth longest river in the country, the borderlands are an incredibly beautiful, diverse, and culturally important part of the world that will be changed forever if a contiguous physical border wall is constructed. I also want people who don’t have personal relations with undocumented immigrants, similar to myself before this journey started, to recognize that behind all the media attention, fear-mongering, and stereotyping, that many undocumented immigrants are stellar individuals who are victims of circumstance.
How did you find your subject?
BM: I’m personally connected to the Rio Grande and the border. I didn’t seek out the subject, the “Build The Wall” rhetoric just happened and I had to do something for the places that I loved so dearly.
What made you choose SXSW to showcase your film to the world?
BM: Texas is the greatest nation in the world therefore SXSW is the greatest film festival!
Add The River and the Wall to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2019 filmmakers!
Join Us For SXSW 2019
Register and book your hotel now to save! The Film Badge gets you primary access to all SXSW Film events including Film Keynotes and Featured Sessions, world premieres, round tables, workshops, parties, and more. Over the course of nine days, the SXSW Film Festival hosts over 450 screenings! Film registrants also have primary access to Convergence events, including the Comedy Festival and nine unique Conference tracks, as well as secondary access to most Interactive and Music events.
See you in March!
The River and the Wall – Photo courtesy of film