First of all congratulations on getting Oscar qualified for your documentry. Can you tell us the story behind that?

Last year I was at the farmworker justice awards ceremony and one of the recipients was an elderly woman that received a humanitarian award. When she went on stage she talked about the conditions that the migrants have to go through, the hike in the hundred mile desert, the danger they face from the cartel and wildlife. One particular story that she mentioned was about a man who had both of his arms cut off, his eyes gouged out and he was hit in the back of the head because he wouldn’t carry drugs for the cartel.

The way she described that particular story got me emotional. I looked around the room and I wasn’t alone, everyone was emotional. After the event I went and asked her if she would want to do a documentary about her experience.

Long story short, a friend of mine David Damian Figueroa was also interested in doing a story on her and he asked me if I wanted to produce and direct the project together.

What was the experience like working on this documentary?

It was an eye-opening experience in terms of the landscape and how vast the desert is. There is absolutely no way that anyone can cross and reach civilization on foot through the Arizona desert. The desert is approximately 100 miles wide. Either they will starve to death, get attacked by wildlife or get caught in the wild cactus. The death toll is astronomical and no-one really cares or tries to find a solution for this atrocity.

Not to mention the absurdity of the wall. Did you know the border wall cost approximately 43 million per mile and there are 10 foot gaps every 1/2 mile or so? I asked one of the border patrol the reason for the gaps and he said the gaps are left for wild life to travel freely between countries. Can you believe that?

What I find so disheartening is that this issue is hardly ever covered in the media. When you look at the overall picture not just the Arizona border issue, everyone in this planet is seeking the same dream. A place that we can raise our kids and be with our family in peace. To see a white woman going out of her way in these tumultuous times that we are in to help people in need that she doesn’t know, brings a worm feeling to my heart and I hope the viewers feel the same way.

In this doc we didn’t focus on any political issues because it’s not about that. It only the explores the kindness of this wonderful person Shura Wallin and her volunteers who scour the desert looking for migrants who need help. Basically she is the Mother Teresa of the desert.

This obviously sounds like a passion project and I wish you guys all the best. I’m looking forward to seeing this on the Oscars short list. Do you have other projects in the works?

Being a migrant myself, that topic has always been close to my heart. We are currently writing a feature based on my own childhood experience that I hope to have completed by the end of the year. Along with that, I just Produced and Directed a 27 minute short (Living In Fear) in the vein of the feature we are writing that is about an Iranian teenage boy who is traumatized from an incident that happens to his father after 911. So much so that he’s afraid to leave his house. Through a series of events he’s finally able to face his fears. (based on real life event) This is one of those films that everything fell into place. We got lucky to have had 12 great actors who nailed their parts. The boy was played by the most talented teen actor, Nour Jude Assaf and the mom by a veteran actress, Kathleen Wilhoite. The father was portrayed by Arash Mokhtar. All three gave an emotionally gripping performance. I’m hoping to start the festival circuit by the end of the year.

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Arthur expertly utilises the cinematic tools at her disposal to bring this story to life as she takes the audience down a rabbit hole of the supernatural.
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