BISBEE ’17 is a non-fiction 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. 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 miner’s strike that lead to the Deportation. Spaces in town double as past and present; re-enactors become ghosts in the haunted streets of the old copper camp. Richard plays the sheriff in a Western, Fernando portrays a Mexican miner in a Musical, a local politician is in her own telenovela. These and other enacted fantasies mingle with very real reckonings and it all builds towards a massive re-staging of the Deportation itself on the exact day of its centennial anniversary. Director Robert Greene (Actress, Kate Plays Christine) joins us for a conversation on his latest provocative and compelling new film.
94% on Rotten Tomatoes
“‘Even though “Bisbee ’17′ depicts a wholesome and harmonious community undertaking, it is a profoundly haunted and haunting film.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“The director purposefully pulls us this way and that, weaving cinematic spells and then yanking us out of them; as viewers, we are both inside and outside the story.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
“The film is rich and multifaceted, as Greene employs an array of styles (historical reenactments, direct cinema-style portraiture, musical numbers) to investigate the complex relationship between Bisbee’s past and present.” – Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader
“The result is a singularly American riff on The Act of Killing, a fascinating and dream-like mosaic that’s less driven by residual anger than by cockeyed concern, less interested in exhuming the past than in revealing its value to the present.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“Bisbee ’17 is a fierce, lyrical probe into the soul of a town haunted by a history it would rather forget. It’s also an unsettling cipher for America, in a year when the ghosts of our past revealed themselves in frightening ways.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox