HARLINGEN, May 20 - KMBH, the Rio Grande Valley’s public broadcasting station, is inviting viewers from around the world to watch the acclaimed new documentary, The Undocumented, online on Wednesday while at the same time interacting in real time with filmmaker Marco Williams.
The Undocumented chronicles efforts by undocumented immigrants to cross the Sonora Desert in Arizona. Since 1998, more than two thousand dead bodies have been found in the desert— the remains of “border crossers” who perished en route to the United States from Mexico.
The movie and discussion are being brought together thanks to OVEE, the new social screening platform that allows viewers to watch their favorite PBS and local public television programs together, from anywhere, on demand. OVEE is otherwise known as the Online Video Engagement Experience.
“KMBH is excited to be offering the new online video engagement experience or OVEE to the Rio Grande Valley. This type of social TV allows us all to communicate and interact simultaneously from anywhere in our region, state, nation or the world,” said Robert M. Gutierrez, general manager of KMBH.
“I am especially excited to announce our live webcast review of the new documentary The Undocumented. The ability for all of us to engage and provide feedback is unprecedented. This documentary will shed light on migrants and the harsh struggle they must endure to find a better life. Don't miss this exclusive event on KMBH.org.”
Pedro Rodriguez, website manager at KMBH explained that OVEE allows online viewers to interact in real time around content by signing on through the platform or via Facebook. “Viewers can gather online in one spot to converse electronically as they watch PBS and local station content,” he said.
The film’s showing takes place at 3 p.m., Central Time, on Wednesday, May 22, on the KMBH website, www.kmbh.org. Viewers can participate by signing in at this website: https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/qeruw
Williams, an NYU professor, will introduce his film and take questions in real time online from viewers.
The Undocumented is part of PBS’ Independent Lens series. According to Independent Lens, The Undocumented reveals the “ongoing impact of immigration laws and economic policies on the very people who continue to be affected by them. By going beyond politics, the film also tells a story that is deeply personal.”
Independent Lens asked Williams what impact he hopes his film will have. “I hope that my film will raise awareness of a little known issue of the immigration narrative debate in our nation,” Williams said.
Independent Lens also asked Williams what were some of the challenges he faced in making the film. “I wanted to make a film about migrant deaths. I wanted their stories to be the primary narrative. I did not want Americans to be seen as heroes. However, how can you do this, given that the dead don’t talk?” Williams responded.
Asked why he chose to present The Undocumented on public television, Williams said: “Public television allows me the best opportunity to reach the greatest number of Americans. It is an honor.”
To bring the documentary closer to South Texas, Brooks County Judge Raul Ramirez will also be one of the featured panelists. Ramirez has to contend with the deaths of hundreds of undocumented immigrants in the South Texas brush. Ramirez will be interviewed on OVEE by Rio Grande Guardian Editor Steve Taylor.
Taylor said he invited Ramirez, the Brooks county judge, to participate in the discussion on the death of immigrants in the desert because sheriffs' deputies in that county found 129 bodies in 2012. “That is about double the number from the year before and six times that recorded in 2010,” Ramirez said.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn recently met with Ramirez and law enforcement personnel in Brooks County to talk about the deaths of immigrants trying to get around the Falfurrias checkpoint.
“I want to congratulate KMBH on making this important documentary available as part of their OVEE project. I also want to thank Judge Ramirez for agreeing to speak about the situation in Brooks County, which is now getting national attention, thanks to Reuters and other national media outlets,” said Taylor.