Most people have likely heard about President Donald Trump’s plan for a wall along the southern border. But a new documentary explores the barriers that already exist in the region where Texas and Mexico meet. In “The River and the Wall,” a group of friends take a three-month journey during which they bike, canoe and ride horseback along the entire Texas-Mexico border. Their goal was to explore the border and document it in case a new wall or fence changes it forever.
Director Ben Masters initially cared most about how the wall would affect animals along the border. Before this film, he worked on wildlife films during which he learned about cross-border animal migration.
The film also shows how the Rio Grande is an integral part of the border landscape. Masters says there are many places along the border where the river is dry.
“Before the Rio Grande is a border, it’s a river, and it’s dammed up so many times that whenever it reaches El Paso, it quite literally goes dry,” Masters says. “Between the cities of El Paso and Juarez, the fourth-largest river in North America goes dry.”
The Rio Grande comes back to life near Presidio, eventually flowing out into the Gulf of Mexico. Masters says the proposed border wall won’t be in the middle of the Rio Grande. It will be on land, on the U.S. side.
“Legally, the Texas-Mexico border is the deepest part of the channel in the Rio Grande,” Master says. “That is not where they’re going to build the wall.”
Masters says that besides not understanding what the border is, many people don’t have a clear picture of what it’s like to be there. He says relatively little filming and photography have been done in the region.
“You go float down the lower canyons, and you enter into these massive cathedrals of rock that are as magnificent as the Grand Canyon,” he says.
Masters says that as he talked with politicians and others along the border, he noticed most didn’t think a wall along the full length of the border is a good idea. But he regrets not making that a more prominent detail in the documentary.
“The River and the Wall” will be in theaters, and available for streaming, starting May 3.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.