From the Archives

From the Archives: The Infiltrators

Editor’s Note: To celebrate Oscilloscope’s virtual release of the politically daring and stylistically innovative Sundance winner The Infiltrators, FQ presents from its archives an interview with filmmakers Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera. Diana Flores Ruiz sat down with the co-directors to discuss border and detention politics, their highly collaborative production process, and documentary hybridity and reenactment, among other topics. –Marc Francis

Diana Flores Ruiz

From Film Quarterly, Fall 2019, Volume 3, Number 1

Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera’s recent film The Infiltrators uses a bold mix of film forms to tell the true story of a group of young undocumented activists who intentionally detain themselves in a South Florida immigration detention facility. Styled as a heist film, Ibarra and Rivera weave together verité footage, testimony, and reenactment to produce a compelling argument against immigration detention. In Diana Ruiz’s interview, Ibarra and Rivera discuss the ways in which The Infiltrators problematizes extractive modes of documentary film and how the project’s requisite reenactment brought about unexpected results. They also discuss the creative and political dimensions of “undocumented storytelling,” which relates to the filmmakers’ enduring commitment to depicting fully dimensional representations of immigrants and Latinx experiences.

Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera’s new docufiction film The Infiltrators (2019) follows a group of young undocumented activists who confound border-patrol agents in order to gain access to detainees inside Broward Transitional Center, a landmark South Florida detention facility. The filmmakers follow key activists throughout the planning; once the activists slip into Broward, though, the filmmakers lose visual access and rely on actors to re-create the experiences inside. As a result, The Infiltrators’s bold style echoes the activists’ ethos of exposure by all radical means necessary.


The article can be viewed in its entirety here.