A film by Robert Greene
2018, 112 minutes
No. 213


Radically combining collaborative documentary, western, and musical elements, the new film by Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine) follows several members of a close-knit community as they attempt to reckon with their town’s darkest hour.

In 1917, nearly two-thousand immigrant miners, on strike for better wages and safer working conditions, were violently rounded up by their armed neighbors, herded onto cattle cars, shipped to the middle of the New Mexican desert, and left there to die. This long-buried and largely forgotten event came to be known as the Bisbee Deportation. 

Bisbee ’17 documents locals as they play characters and stage dramatic scenes from the controversial story, culminating in a large scale recreation of the deportation itself on the exact day of its 100th anniversary. These dramatized scenes are based on subjective versions of the story and offer conflicting views of the event, underscoring the difficulty of collective memory, while confronting the current political predicaments of immigration, unionization, environmental damage, and corporate corruption with direct, haunting messages about solidarity and struggle.

Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival
Nominee, Best Documentary, Gotham Awards
Official Selection, Hot Docs
Official Selection, BAMcinemaFest
Official Selection, True/False Film Festival

"The best film of the year. Profoundly haunted and haunting." – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A riveting, emotionally galvanizing achievement… a movie that doesn’t just put history on trial, but reminds us that we’re never not living it.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“Sterling. An investigation into memory, intolerance, corporate-labor conflicts and race relations that’s as audacious as it is timely — and further confirms that director Robert Greene is one of America’s finest new voices in nonfiction.” – Nick Schager, Variety

“A passionately ambitious, patiently empathetic mapping of modern times.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Instantly essential. A lyrical, powerful piece of work that will certainly stand among the best documentaries you’ll see this year.” – Brian Tallerico,

“Absolutely mesmerizing. Bisbee ’17 collapses past and present into one another, and in doing so achieves a singularly strange and unsettling vision of apparently intractable American hatreds.” – Daniel Schindel, The Film Stage

“An American Riff on The Act of Killing; A fascinating and dream-like mosaic about a forgotten American tragedy.” – David Ehrlich, Indiewire

“A lyrical, haunting probe into the way history intertwines with the present.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

“A big, wildly ambitious movie. Timely in the ways it interrogates notions of freedom, identity, and justice.” – Dan Jackson, Thrillist

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