At the Ready premiered at Sundance 2021 and I was super excited about it. It appeared on my most anticipated films of Sundance list, in fact. The headline reads “a group of seniors train to become border control agents at El Paso’s Horizon High School, near the US/Mexico border.” I surmised that the film would feature stupid kids that don’t have a big-picture view on humanity. Then, over the course of At the Ready I was going to feel all warm and fuzzy as these kids are given an education on empathy and how we treat other humans. Well, I was wrong. The the small-minded view on humanity, instead fell on me.
A bit about At the Ready
At the Ready is a documentary that aims to show the world “in the gray”. Immigration is such a polarizing topic and the last several years have pushed us into very tightly woven perspectives. At the Ready focuses on El Paso, Texas because its demographic is predominantly hispanic, so the officers who police the border are largely of Mexican descent. At the Ready focuses on the lives of a handful of students that are a part of this “border control” training program so that we can better understand the perspectives of why in the world this job would be appealing. I’ll offer a bit about the gray parts (but I encourage you to see At the Ready for yourself). Not to mince words, these jobs are very well-paid and offer solid benefits. Beyond that, in El Paso, border agents are seen as jobs that actually are a service to not only the US, but also to families coming to the border. In fact, the perspective is as a border agent you are helping to guide and provide needed services. The job is respected and valued in the community. Admittedly, with my 2000 mile away view from Madison, WI, I just always pictured a bunch of dudes with buzz cuts, that got picked on in high school and decided they wanted to exert control over people in need. But see, there’s that small-minded view.
Sitting down with Maisie Crow
I told Crow right out of the gate that I see the world in black and white. Then she told me she sees the world in the gray (which is the accurate way to see the world, btw). So what I’m saying is, the interview went well. Crow shared how her background in reporting enables her to share the origins of perspectives she may not sure. I asked her if it’s difficult to not feel the frustration of documenting the adults and educators who express ideologies incongruous to her own. She said no, it’s not hard. Because she’s a documentarian and not an emotionally-charged psychopath like me. Well, she didn’t say that last part, but she thought it for sure.
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