Directors Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson in person!

In the summer of 2001, it seemed the stars were about to align for a sweeping overhaul of Americaʼs troubled immigration system. The gathering signs of a societal shift on the scale of the Civil Rights Movement were unmistakable. Veteran filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini launched a project to record history in the making, negotiating exclusive, unparalleled access to drill deep into the lives and strategies of principal players inside and outside Washington. This monumental project became known as How Democracy Works Now and will eventually consist of 12 episodes on different aspects of the wheeling, the dealing, the back-scratching that takes place in governmental chambers all over the country.

The ninth film in the series, Protecting Arizona, leaves Washington, DC altogether for the state that has shocked America with its anti-immigrant fury, Arizona. Though the events take place in 2004, the tensions are the very same ones making news today. As the fight over immigration continues to keep the country riveted, Protecting Arizona is an uncanny “prequel” to current border state battles. It will be essential viewing for understanding immigration in this country for years to come. The action centers around the Protect Arizona Now ballot initiative, a.k.a. Prop 200, as it draws the big national players into a messy local fight. The charismatic if rather unexpected leader of the movement to stop Prop 200, radio host and ex-politician Alfredo Gutierrez, embodies the archetype of the great Western hero—a man who sees danger to his community galloping in from far in the distance, and determines to fight it with everything he’s got. Alfredo’s very personal campaign to reverse Arizona voters’ endorsement of Prop 200 from an initial approval rating of 76% plays out through a series of wildly unpredictable turns. Each strategy twist and new alliance is wrapped in the exciting horse race of an election. Eventually national groups see: If things go badly in Arizona, they will surely go worse in Washington. The rollicking campaign becomes a case study in local-national strategic alliances and the many ways they can founder.