Mountainfilm: “Missing in Brooks County,” Human Face on Immigration Challenge!

Mountainfilm: “Missing in Brooks County,” Human Face on Immigration Challenge!

 Mountainfilm plans to once again bring films from Telluride, that is home base to couches and camper vans around the world in 2021. Passes to the online festival, which will run May 31–June 6, are now available at

In addition to the seven-day Mountainfilm Online festival offering access to a robust Mountainfilm 2021 lineup from the comfort and safety of home, with Covid restriction lifted, the nonprofit is planning more in-person screenings and programs in Telluride over Memorial Day weekend, May 28–31.. Go here to find out what you need to know. And here for the full program.

Among the featured films chosen by Festival Director (and filmmaker Suzan Beraza) and her team is “Missing in Brooks County.”

I was among the 80 people privileged to watch a sneak peek of “Missing in Brooks County” last year. In light of the epidemic of ‘Othering’ in our country and its implication for immigration and related policies, this empathic, sometimes gruesome, often grueling film about migrant disappearances and deaths in an region about 1 hour’s drive from the Mexican border is essential viewing. Brooks County is where indomitable spirits mean indomitable odds.

Scroll down to listen to a podcast featuring Lisa Molomot, director, “Missing in Brooks County.”

Referencing the Founding Father’s motto for the newly formed United State, e pluribus unum –  “from many, one” – American presidents, well most anyway, are fond of reminding Americans that almost all of us at some point in our family history share the immigrant experience of wanting to start fresh in the land of opportunity.

And yet…

Around 2006 immigration became a smoking hot topic as politicians debated about how to handle the large number of illegal immigrants entering our country. Debates that are, however, nothing new.

Historically, Americans have frequently shunned new arrivals – last man through the gate (or wall) syndrome – despite the fact their ancestors were also immigrants. (Unless your forebears were Native Americans.) In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, Congress passed laws regulating how many immigrants could enter the US from each country, excluding Asians entirely until the 1960s.

And the beat goes on, though the target has shifted largely to brown-skinned people.

According to one online source (and we hold these truths to be self-evident):

“… Debates over how to prevent unauthorized migration and deal with the unauthorized already living in the United States are polarized. Many Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives, prefer an enforcement-first approach—more agents and fences on the Mexico-U.S. border and a requirement that U.S. employers submit data on newly hired employees to prevent unauthorized workers from getting jobs.”

Democrats prefer “comprehensive immigration reform” that includes more border and interior enforcement to discourage entry and employment, but also a path to legal immigrant status.

And, as this national conversation over immigration policy simmers to a roiling boil, its practical consequences are felt every single day in Brooks County, Texas.

Just 70 miles north of the US border with Mexico, the barren, haunted landscape of Brooks County is the site of an estimated 3000+ deaths since 2008, as migrants try to circumvent the state’s busiest interior immigration checkpoint and get lost in the private ranch lands that surround it.

Directed by Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bermiss, “Missing” follows the journey of two families who have come to region to look for loved ones who vanished. As they search for answers, they encounter a haunted land where frequent deaths are tightly woven into the fabric of everyday life.

Lisa Molomot, Jeff Bemiss (Co-Director) and Eddie Canales (featured in “Missing”)

This thoroughly enveloping documentary (and mystery) puts a human face on the current debate about immigration because the filmmakers chose to turn their lenses on law enforcement agents, human rights workers, and activists who come face to face with the life and death consequences of our country’s broken system, revealing the stark, sad reality of a giant fail.

“Missing in Brooks County” is currently screening at film festivals across the country – including Mountainfilm in Telluride – and will have its broadcast premiere on the PBS series Independent Lens in fall 2021.

“One of the most nuanced and disturbing…films about the immigration crisis.”   Boston Globe

“A sobering piece of film.” – Film International

“Vital, empathetic and humane.”  – La Estatuilla

“The definitive artwork on migrant deaths.” – Bill Simmons, University of Arizona Human Rights Practice Program

“One of the best films I’ve seen in years”– Suzan Beraza, Festival Director, Mountainfilm

Lisa Molomot, more:

Lisa Molomot and husband/editor Jacob Bricca

Lisa Molomot is an award-winning filmmaker who produces and directs social justice documentaries across North America. Many of her recent works, “Missing in Brooks County,” “The Cleaners,” “Safe Haven” and “Soledad, ” focus on immigration and immigrant communities. She has also produced films about public education.

A graduate of the American Film Institute, Lisa is an American documentary filmmaker and editor whose work has aired on the PBS series POV, Independent Lens, and America Reframed. Her docs have also been seen at film festivals all over the world, including Sundance, SXSW and Mountainfilm.

Lisa has taught filmmaking at Yale University, Wesleyan University, Colorado College and Trinity College. She currently teaches at the School of Theatre, Film and Television and the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.

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