Fresh off of its world premiere at SXSW, Ben Masters’ documentary The River and the Wall has released its first full trailer. Gravitas announced today that the film will be released in theaters in the U.S. and Canada and On Demand May 3 with a one night preview in nearly 100 theaters on May 2.
As exclusively reported by Deadline, The River and the Wall was acquired by Gravitas Ventures ahead of its premiere at SXSW. The documentary premiered to a standing ovation at its premiere at the Austin-based fest with newly announced presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke making an appearance during the Q&A. O’Rourke also appears in the film (as seen in the trailer above) alongside sitting Republican Congressman Will Hurd as well as Jay Kleberg, Filipe DeAndrade, Heather Mackey, and Austin Alvarado.
Masters started filming The River and The Wall two years ago right when the “build that wall” rhetoric was in its infancy. “We had no idea that the issue would blow up into a government shutdown and one of the most controversial topics in the world,” said Masters.
The documentary follows five friends: three Texans, a New York ornithologist, and a Brazilian immigrant as they embark on a 1,200-mile journey down the Rio Grande via mountain bike, horse, and canoe. They document the US-Mexico border before construction of a border wall and to explore its impacts on immigration, public lands, wildlife, landowners, and border security. In addition to Hurd and Beto, the film also includes interviews with border patrol agents, wildlife biologists, ranchers, farmers, and folks on both sides of the border to see for themselves where a physical border wall would actually go and what effects it would have. The immigrant stories of two of the characters are interwoven through the journey, humanizing the controversial topic of immigration, while they travel through a landscape that could soon crumble to a wall intended to keep them out.
Masters said that the film gives “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.” He adds, “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 special night-before preview screenings mimic that of Masters’ film Unbranded which went on to have a successful theatrical run and digital release, grossing over $1 million.
Produced by Hillary Pierce (Tower), the film won the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, a special jury prize presented to a feature film world premiering at SXSW that was shot primarily in Texas or directed by a current resident of Texas. The special night-before preview screenings mimic that of Masters’ film Unbranded which went on to have a successful theatrical run and digital release, grossing over $1 million. The film is now available for pre-order on iTunes. With the 2020 election on the horizon and the immigration at the forefront of political and social discourse, The River and the Wall is more relevant now than ever.
Watch the trailer above.