Independent Lens: Missing in Brooks County
ITVS, Fork Films, Engel Entertainment (PBS)
It can be hard to see through the vitriol of the national debate surrounding the immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border, and it can be easy to gloss over the sheer scale of the human toll. With Independent Lens: Missing in Brooks County, Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss successfully do both with clarity, empathy, and grace. Set in Falfurrias, Texas, the site of a border checkpoint that thousands of migrants have avoided trying to cross into the United States at their mortal peril, Missing in Brooks County pivots around two families who arrive in the small town in search of missing loved ones. Their stories are layered within a spectrum of perspectives that exist within the county–from an activist detective and a team of forensic anthropologists working to help locate the remains of missing migrants to a paramilitary figure dead set on enforcing “closed borders.” The end result is a work that deeply internalizes the complexity of the subject without ever losing sight of the prevailing tragedy. For vividly capturing the cost of the United States’ decades-long policy failures around the border with nuance and restraint, and for embodying the moral power of the documentary form, Independent Lens: Missing in Brooks County wins a Peabody Award.