BISBEE ’17 is a nonfiction feature film by Sundance award winning director Robert Greene set in Bisbee, Arizona, an eccentric old mining town just miles away from both Tombstone and the Mexican border.
Radically combining documentary and genre elements, the film follows several members of the close knit community as they collaborate with the filmmakers to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bisbee Deportation—where 1,200 immigrant miners were violently taken from their homes by a deputized force, shipped to the desert on cattle cars and left to die.
When the last copper mines closed in 1975, the once-booming Bisbee nearly became another Arizona ghost town, but was saved by the arrival of a generation of hippies, artists and eccentrics that give the place its strange vibe today. Bisbee is considered a tiny “blue” dot in the “red” sea of Republican Arizona, but divisions between the lefties in town and the old mining families remain. Bisbee was once known as a White Man’s Camp, and that racist past lingers in the air.
As we meet the townspeople, they begin to confront the violent past of the deportation, a long-buried secret in the old company town. As the 100th anniversary of Bisbee’s darkest day approaches, locals dress as characters on both sides of the still-polarizing event, staging dramatic recreations of scenes from the escalating miners’ strike that lead to the deportation. Spaces in town double as past and present, reenactors become ghosts in the haunted streets of the old copper camp, and enacted fantasies mingle with very real reckonings.
“[Director Robert] Greene lets the contemporary resonances reveal themselves by implication rather than thrusting them upon us.” —Sam Adams, Slate
“…A large-scale study of political psychology, an expedition of historical archeology, and a form of drama therapy for a community that, in crucial ways, reflects the pathologies and conflicts of the country at large. A passionately ambitious, patiently empathetic mapping of modern times.” —Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“A lyrical, powerful piece of work. Among the best documentaries you’ll see this year.” —Brian Tallerico, rogerebert.com
Screening at The Belcourt in Nashville Oct 5 – 9.