Tuesday, July 23, 2019
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Throng at Wood for ‘The River & The Wall’

Chronicle Managing Editor Cathy DeDe writes: Huge turnout for Heather Mackey’s documentary movie The River and the Wall last Saturday afternoon.

My thought: The River and the Wall could easily emerge as a Best Documentary nominee for next year’s Academy Awards.

The movie follows Heather Mackey, the Glens Falls native and biologist who brought us the film, and four colleagues as they traverse 1,200 miles of the Rio Grande along the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico — where Donald Trump aims to build a border wall.

‘The River and the Wall’ documentary ‘character’ Heather Mackey speaks with the audience, as Wood Theater director Emily Murphy looks on. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe

Filmmaker Ben Masters, the four other on-screen “characters” and a small off-screen camera crew set out to see where the wall would go and what environmental, economic, social and political impacts it might have.

The film drew a full house at the 300-seat Wood Theater. Ninety more people were turned away, they said.

The Wood has booked a second showing on Wednesday, May 22, at 7 p.m. Note: The distributor requires pre-sales of at least 90 tickets to secure the screening. Meanwhile, the buzz after last weekend was so huge, it’s likely to sell out again. Tickets: $11. Call: 480-4878.

See it if you can. It is so beautiful, with stunningly scenic landscapes and impossible shots, masterfully filmed.

The “characters” are smart, engaged, and laugh-out-loud funny, human in their elations and their suffering on the trail or while telling their own stories. Wildlife photographer Filipe DeAndrade emerges as a star. So does our Heather.

Then Heather Mackey talked about it; new screening set for May 22. Chronicle photo/Cathy DeDe

Meanwhile, no one they found, Democratic or Republican elected officials, conservative farmers, a Border Patrol agent (speaking on behalf of his Union), fishermen along the river, environmentalists, Mexican fishermen or shop owners was for the wall. Not even those strongly anti immigration and (of course) drug trafficking.

“It’s the most costly and least effective solution,” was the mantra. Unintended consequences, like cutting off farmers from their source of irrigation, taking private land by eminent domain, and ceding countless acres of U.S. soil outside the wall to Mexico: These stick in the craw.

One woman during the post-Q&A introduced herself as a Donald Trump supporter: “Up until three minutes ago, I was also for the border wall. Now I am not.”

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