Q&A with the Filmmakers of Arizona Immigration Debate Documentary Two Americans

Categories: Film and TV
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Courtesy of Dan De Vivo and Valeria Fernández
A police officer makes a traffic stop in the documentary Two Americans, which screens this Monday at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Katherine Figueroa could hardly be more different: One is an aging lawman nationally known for his pink-underwear prisons, who in unguarded moments regrets never taking voice lessons to improve his signature performance of "My Way." The other is the 9-year-old daughter of Mexican immigrants, born in Arizona, whose impassioned plea to President Obama when her parents were arrested in the raid of a local carwash made her a recognizable voice for reform.

But as the simple yet profound title of the award-winning documentary Two Americans suggests, the most important thing that Arpaio and Figueroa share is what stands them on equal footing in this country - entitled to the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same pursuit of happiness.

Screening 7:00 p.m. this Monday at the Phoenix Center for the Arts' Third Street TheaterTwo Americans combines intimate portraits of Arpaio and Figueroa to immerse viewers in opposing sides of the Arizona immigration debate, turning headlines and soundbytes into families and stories. 

Amidst skillful editing that adds layer after complex layer - punctuated by a tense musical score - these two figures ground the viewer in a debate that can otherwise feel chaotically contentious. 

In everyday moments, Arpaio reminds his wife, Ava, to tell her parents that he'll be on with Anderson Cooper at both 9 and 11 p.m. their time, while Figueroa washes a car to raise money following her parents' arrest, speaking for the first time that we've seen her with a child's brightness rather than an adult's steady resolve.

"At the end of the day, the film offers something for everyone; whether you are a supporter of the sheriff or not, you'll come away feeling closer to these two very different worlds," says filmmaker Valeria Fernandez. They're worlds that Fernandez and fellow filmmaker Dan De Vivo know well: Fernandez is an award-winning journalist who has reported on the state's immigration debate for 10 years, while De Vivo's 2006 documentary Crossing Arizona was an official selection at Sundance.

Fernandez and De Vivo, who spent three years shooting the documentary, answer questions about Two Americans:

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Phoenix Center for the Arts

1202 N. 3rd St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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