Anyone who knows award-winning Phoenix journalist Valeria Fernandez knows that for four years now she and her collaborator, filmmaker Dan DeVivo, have been working on a documentary about Sheriff Joe Arpaio's reign of terror and error in Maricopa County, a film ultimately titled Two Americans.
Fernandez and DeVivo's film is finally finished and is scheduled to debut at the Arizona International Film Festival in Tucson this Friday at 7 p.m. Well, I should say "almost finished" because as I type this, Valeria and her cohorts are working furiously to make sure there are Spanish-language subtitles to portions of the film that are in English.
The film follows Arpaio as he hunts illegal immigrants, terrorizing anyone in Maricopa County with brown skin or an accent, but it also delves into Arpaio's lust for power, the profound corruption of his office, and his retaliation against anyone who opposes him.
Contrasted with this Mephistophelean character is American-born Katherine Figueroa, a 9 year-old girl whose parents are arrested and incarcerated as a result of Arpaio's raid on a Phoenix carwash. Figueroa garners national attention when a YouTube video of her, tearful and appealing for the help of President Obama, goes viral.
Thrust into the media spotlight, this courageous youngster takes up her parents' cause, participating in demonstrations and even testifying before a Congressional panel about her experience.
Fernandez says she and DeVivo began working on an Arpaio documentary in 2008, but it wasn't until June of 2009, after Arpaio's car-wash raid and Figueroa's YouTube appeal (filmed by Phoenix videographer Dennis Gilman with the assistance of Respect/Respeto's Lydia Guzman) that they decided to focus on Figueroa as a foil for Arpaio.
(See the film's trailer after the jump.)