After President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, documentary filmmaker Maisie Crow moved from New York to Texas with the hope to tell stories about her home state. It was then that she learned Texas high schools offered law enforcement training programs, where students engage in a number of criminal justice activities, including fake drug raids and active shooter drills.
Set at Horizon High School, just outside El Paso, Texas, and within 10 miles of the Mexican border, “At the Ready” focuses on three Mexican-American students who participate in the criminal justice clubs and consider a career path in law enforcement and border patrol.
“Americans tend to go back and forth on these ideological conversations in a vacuum, without taking note or truly understanding the implications it has on a child growing up on the border and their future career choices,” Crow said in a statement. “It often ignores how these conversations change the way young adults look at the world and the way they will look at their own community, as it is seemingly being verbally torn apart by politicians.”
Crow says she took great care to connect with the students and their families, the result of which is access that allows humanity to break through the political rhetoric.
“All of my work is, I think, intimate and requires a lot of access,” she says in an interview with Gold Derby at the Sundance Film Festival. According to Crow, the students and the four teachers who factor in the film in surprising ways all saw the film and approved of the result. “They all liked it and felt their perspectives were represented accurately,” she says. “I will be very interested to see how the rest of the world views it.”
Indeed, the response from the rest of the world is something producer Hillary Pierce is most excited about as well, especially because “At the Ready” doesn’t push an agenda as much as present reality.
“If you’re extremely online or on Twitter all day or have CNN on in the background, you only see these things on a 30,000-foot perspective,” she says. “This film offers an opportunity to see it in a very intimate way, how some of these policies affect people personally in communities and in families and in schools.”
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