The Infiltrators: A Conversation with Filmmakers Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra

Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America

The Infiltrators is a Sundance award-winning docu-thriller that tells the true story of young immigrants who get arrested by Border Patrol, and put in a shadowy for-profit detention center – on purpose. Marco and Viri are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, a group of radical Dreamers who are on a mission to stop deportations. And the best place to stop deportations, they believe, is in detention. However, when Marco and Viri try to pull off their heist – a kind of ‘prison break’ in reverse – things don’t go according to plan.

By weaving together documentary footage of the real infiltrators with scripted re-enactments of the events inside the detention center, the Infiltrators tells this incredible true story in a boundary-crossing new cinematic language.

Please join us for a discussion with filmmakers Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, moderated by Stephen Pitti, Professor of History and of American Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration at Yale University.

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Cristina Ibarra is a Sundance award-winning filmmaker with a 20-year practice rooted in her border crossing roots along the Texas-Mexico border. The Infiltrators is a docu-thriller about undocumented activists on a secret mission inside a detention center and is currently being distributed by Oscilloscope. It won the Audience and the Innovator Award in the NEXT section at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, among other notable festival awards. The New York Times calls her previous award-winning documentary, Las Marthas, about wealthy South Texas border debutantes who honor George Washington in Laredo, Texas “a striking alternative portrait of border life”. It premiered on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2014 and is distributed by Women Make Movies. The Last Conquistador, a documentary about the racially conflicted construction of a monument to a conquistador in El Paso, Texas, was broadcast on POV in 2008. USA Today describes it as “Heroic”. Her award-winning directorial debut, Dirty Laundry: A Homemade Telenovela, was broadcast on PBS in 2001. She is the recipient of fellowships from Soros, Rauschenberg, Rockefeller, NYFA, CPB/PBS, NALIP, Firelight, the Sundance Women’s Initiative and Creative Capital, among others.

Alex Rivera is a filmmaker who has been telling new, urgent, and visually adventurous Latino stories for more than 20 years. His first feature film, a cyberpunk thriller set in Mexico, Sleep Dealer, won awards, including the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and the Amnesty International Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Rivera’s second feature film, a documentary/scripted hybrid, The Infiltrators, won both the NEXT: Audience Award and the Innovators Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, the Best Documentary Feature award at the Blackstar Film Festival, and is currently being developed as a scripted series by Blumhouse Television. Other recent collaborations include a series of music videos produced by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network with artists including Manu Chao, La Santa Cecilia, and Aloe Blacc, which have collectively received over 25 million views. Rivera’s work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the Open Society Institute, Sundance, Creative Capital, and many others. Alex studied at Hampshire College and was the Rothschild Lecturer at Harvard University.