The volatile themes of immigration and race sear through this riveting story as it follows the trajectory of the most controversial immigration law the US has seen in generations.
Through powerful footage and intimate access, THE STATE OF ARIZONA focuses on the controversial "papers please" law, SB1070. The feature-length, verite documentary interweaves the volatile themes of immigration and race portrayed through a mosaic of characters and their responses to the law. The film's three-act structure is built around the turbulent arc of the law, from the Governor's signing the bill to the Supreme Court's upcoming pronouncement on its constitutionality. The throughline is the impassioned battle -- on the streets, at the ballot box, and in the Courts -- over two competing strands of the American character: the rule of law versus the democratic sense of compassion. Among the Arizonans we meet are: Carlos Garcia, an immigrant rights activist, who was once undocumented himself. The soft-spoken Garcia guides us through the immigrant community's restive resistance. Rudy Pena is a 3d generation Mexican American who poignantly explains how racial profiling is a double-edged sword. He tours us through his neighborhood, which has come to be dominated by undocumented migrant residents. Rudy explains how he feels belittled and unwelcomed by his own people in his own home. And we follow the architect of SB1070, State Senator Russell Pearce as he scales the seemingly indomitable heights of being elected president of the Senate only to find himself recalled in an historic electoral upset. As numerous states consider a course similar to Arizona's, THE STATE OF ARIZONA is a cautionary tale that shows how a state is driven to the brink of intolerance, and (surprisingly) provides a roadmap of how it may be brought back. Our goal is to contribute to the debate surrounding immigration reform -- which seems likely to reignite in the next presidential administration no matter which party wins -- through a film that will push beyond the headlines to engage audiences through the riveting power of film. Our objective approach is meant to provide a platform across which all sides may feel heard and therefore may be more willing to engage and listen to opposing views. More specifically we want to illustrate the divisive and tragic consequences of inaction at the federal level that has led some states to enact the most stringent and punitive immigration laws America has seen in generations.