The River and The Wall

image from the film The River and The Wall

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Image from film THE RIVER AND THE WALL

Streaming link available Mar 19–25
Register for panel discussion, Tues Mar 23 @ noon

This documentary film follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel 1200 miles from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes. Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters realizes the urgency of documenting the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms ahead.

Masters recruits NatGeo Explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado, and conservationist Jay Kleberg to join him on the two-and-a-half-month journey down 1,200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a wall on the natural environment, but as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters.

The film is in English, with occasional Spanish subtitled in English.

For more information about the film:


Heather Mackey ’10, cast member and ecologist. Heather completed a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. She has worked as a field biologist and conducted conservation research in a variety of remote locations including Kodiak Island, Alaska and the Galapagos Islands, as well as the Australian rainforest where she contributed to research on the behavior of the Satin Bowerbird. It wasn’t until she began her MS research at California State University Los Angeles that she discovered the wonderment of West Texas. Through her two seasons on the Rio Grande researching the impact of riparian restoration on the bird and butterfly communities she’s developed a deep appreciation for the wildlife and the people of West Texas.

Debra A. Castillo is Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Emerson Hinchliff Professor of Hispanic Studies, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is past president of the international Latin American Studies Association. She specializes in contemporary narrative and performance from the Spanish-speaking world (including the United States), gender studies, comparative border studies, and cultural theory. Her most recent books include Mexican Public Intellectuals (with Stuart Day), South of the Future: Speculative Biotechnologies and Care Markets in South Asia and Latin America (with Anindita Banerjee) and The Scholar as Human (with Anna Sims Bartel). She has a longstanding collaboration with Teatrotaller, the Cornell Latino/a theater troupe.

Sergio Garcia-Rios, Assistant Professor of Government and Latina/o Studies, Cornell University. Sergio was born and raised in Durango, México, “but I consider El Paso, TX my second home, a fronterizo by choice.” His research investigates the formation and transformation of Latino identities as well as the political implications of these transformations.  Other academic interests include issues related to Latinos and the Voting Rights Act, border issues and border research, and the politics of Mexico.

Panel Moderator: John W. Kennedy, PhD Candidate in Romance Studies

Sponsored by the Central New York Humanities Corridor from an award by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell Cinema, Migrations: A Global Grand Challenge (part of Global Cornell), and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.