Hazards, Compassion Found Along Migrant Trail
Filmmaker Marco Williams explores immigration and the harrowing migrant trail along the United States-Mexico border in his latest film, The Undocumented and the videogame that accompanies it, The Migrant Trail. Williams is an Emmy, Peabody, and DuPont award-winning director with a 20+ year track record of producing documentaries that explore race and reconciliation in America. Williams' films include Two Towns of Jasper, about the racially motivated murder of James Byrd Jr.; and Banished, a film about racial cleansing and reconciliation in America. For Williams, his work supports a greater quest:
I have spent my life in the pursuit of understanding and bridging difference. When I was 11 years old, Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was asked to speak to my elementary school assembly. While I don’t remember much from that day, what I do remember are King’s words, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I realize that this was the moment I set forth on a life-long journey toward love and forgiveness. My work has been the exploration and examination of possible solutions—how to repair transgressions, how to work toward reconciliation.
Williams’ film The Undocumented began with the goal to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis—2,000 deaths and counting—along the US-Mexico border. Highlighting the agencies and the disparate groups of individuals doing compassionate and humane work along the border, Williams ultimately hopes to inform attitudes and actions that move beyond the divisiveness permeating the public conversation about immigration. Love is present in the compassionate actions on both sides of the border, and the complexity of forgiveness is at play among those who cross and those who apprehend.
The Fetzer Institute has partnered with Williams to create and evaluateThe Migrant Trail, a videogame that provides a first-person experience of the hazards that both migrants and border patrol agents encounter along the border. Designed to provide an empathetic mechanism for understanding the complex topic of immigration from multiple perspectives, players choose between the two perspectives and immerse themselves in a simulated experience of the realities in the heart of the Arizona desert.
The project also includes evaluation of the impact of the documentary and game to learn how these different but aligned storytelling techniques affect their audiences and how they could serve as models for other creators seeking to foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Information and Communications Professions.