SXSW “The River and the Wall” Award Winning Documentary Now On Demand / Digital

By Liz Lopez

Rating: A

This year while I attended the SXSW Film Festival, I found myself viewing many documentaries and the most outstanding one for me (and many other viewers) is “The River and the Wall” from award-winning director Ben Masters (“Unbranded”) where it made its world premiere. The feature documentary received standing ovations at the multiple screenings (especially at the one I attended) and went on to receive the SXSW 2019 Louis Black ‘LONE STAR’ Award. One of the best aspects of the film is how powerful the cinematography is from the initial scenes and throughout, as it evokes some deep emotions regarding the beauty and importance of this state. I must confess I started out with a lump in my throat and as the story proceeded, I can’t recall all the additional emotions I felt considering what the proposals are for the Texas border. 

“The River and the Wall” has gone on to be the Opening Night film at the Environmental Film Festival in D.C. and then became the Audience Award winner at the Earthx Festival. The timely documentary from Masters and Emmy-winning producer Hillary Pierce (“Tower”) features an interview with former Texas Congressman Beto O’rourke, Republican Congressman Will Hurd, and many others. Masters stated the following in a press release: “We interviewed border patrol agents, immigrants, ranchers, wildlife biologists, Republican and Democratic congressmen, Mexicans, and Americans to hopefully give an accurate portrayal of the border and let the audience decide for themselves if a physical border wall is a good way to approach our immigration and border security challenges. At a time when there’s so much division, ignorance, and false reporting about the border, I’m excited to release the film and allow the incredible landscapes and people there to speak for themselves.”

“The River and The Wall” is a remarkable film of five individuals traveling 1,220 miles from El Paso to Brownsville where it meets the Gulf of Mexico – all along the border that is very diverse. It is so diverse, the filmmakers rode horses, bicycles, and paddled canoes to explore the Rio Grande River and had the opportunity to meet people on both sides of the “rio” – where in some places the width of the river is very narrow – and gathered their opinions about the proposed border wall and the effect it has had to date, or would have, if they think it would actually work. As we see during the film, the wall intended for immigration purposes also has an impact on Texas landowners, the access to water (human and wildlife), among others.


Distributor Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, has released the film in theaters and On Demand in May. There were several Texas theaters that offered the film, including Austin at the AFS Cinema, but find an update here for more screenings this summer:

The film is now available also on iTunes, Amazon Prime, YouTube Movies, Google Play, Vudu from Gravitas Ventures. For additional information, visit

Source: SXSW, Gravitas Ventures

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