Two Texans and two immigrants embark on an epic 1,200-mile journey down the Rio Grande river and the U.S.-Mexico border to experience the vast landscapes before construction of a border wall. During the horse, mountain bike, and canoe powered journey, they will encounter personal stories from both sides of the border, examine differing immigration viewpoints, and explore the impacts to wildlife and landowners in the feature documentary THE RIVER AND THE WALL.
The 1,200-mile journey starts at the Texas, Mexico, and New Mexico intersection where the Rio Grande River is diverted into an irrigation canal. The crew, Texas filmmaker and horse trainer Ben Masters, Brazilian immigrant and NatGeo Wild Host Filipe DeAndrade, raft guide and adventurer Austin Alvarado and Texas conservationist Jay Kleberg will follow the remaining dry riverbed with mountain bikes through El Paso, the agricultural area immediately downstream, and through the Forgotten Reach, a 100-mile no-man’s land without any water, a wall, or support access. Mountain bikes will be traded for Ben Masters’ mustangs in Presidio, Texas for a 200-mile horseback trip across the rugged Big Bend. At the tiny border town of La Linda, horses will be switched for canoes to begin the lonely Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande, a 10-day float through the congressionally designated Wild & Scenic river. The crew will paddle across Lake Amistad, which means “friendship” in Spanish, and then paddle an additional 20 days through a forest of river cane all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. During the journey, the crew will meet with Border Patrol, wildlife biologists, ranchers, politicians, farmers, and locals encountered along the way. Ben, Filipe, Austin, and Jay’s goal is to experience the rugged and wild river valley before a border wall is built, to meet the people, see the wildlife, and try to understand the complexities of immigration, the efficacy of a potential border wall, and it’s impacts to wildlife. THE RIVER AND THE WALL documentary will take viewers for a wild adventure through one of the most rugged landscapes in North America while showcasing complex issues in a non-partisan manner. The documentary might be the last visuals of the river valley before a wall is constructed and the Rio Grande is changed forever.
About the Director
Ben Masters grew up in west Texas, studied wildlife biology at Texas A&M University, and spent four years working on a border ranch near Laredo. Masters is best known for UNBRANDED, a feature documentary on Netflix, in which he and three friends adopted 16 wild mustangs, trained them, and rode 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada to inspire wild horse adoptions. He is a published author, a National Geographic photographer, cinematographer, and writer, and his work has received dozens of domestic and international awards including the Audience Award at Hot Docs International Film Festival, the People’s Choice Award at Banff Film Festival, and the Audience Award at Telluride Mountainfilm. Masters represents the interests of wildlife on 31.2 Million acres of federal public land as the Wildlife Management Chair of the BLM’s volunteer Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.