Fronteras: 'It's So Much More Than A Line On A Map' - A Texas Filmmaker's Southern Border Journey | Texas Public Radio

Fronteras: 'It's So Much More Than A Line On A Map' - A Texas Filmmaker's Southern Border Journey

Apr 25, 2019

President Donald Trump has long touted the need for a U.S. southern border wall. The years-long debate has drawn comments from both sides of the aisle, as well as from the communities who call the international border home. But there’s more to the vast and diverse region than meets the eye.

Director Ben Masters traveled the entire Texas-Mexico border and documented the journey in his new film, “The River and the Wall.”

From left to right: Austin Alvarado, Ben Masters, Filipe DeAndrade, Heather Mackey, and Jay Kleberg on the banks of the Rio Grande.
Credit Courtesy of Gravitas Ventures

Border fencing along the Texas-Mexico border is few and far between. Several miles exist in the El Paso region, but then the next significant stretch of fencing is downriver in the Rio Grande Valley.

Masters and a group of friends – Jay Kleberg, a conservationist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation; fellow wildlife filmmaker, Filipe DeAndrade; ecologist and ornithologist Heather Mackey; and river guide Austin Alvarado – embarked on a two-and-a-half-month journey. Starting in the far west Texas border city of El Paso, they traveled 1,200 miles by bike, canoe, and horseback until they made their way to the Gulf of Mexico. The team documented the last remaining wilderness in Texas that inhabits the areas between existing physical barriers and the environmental impacts that linger in the wake of possible new border wall construction.

Masters shares a deep connection and interest in the southern border. His previous work focuses on wildlife and the cross-border migration patterns of some species that populate this portion of the southern border. While the group grappled with Mother Nature throughout the journey, they also came face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate, including some personal insights from their own teammates.

The film is currently screening at select theaters nationwide, and it opens widely across Texas beginning May 2nd. More information on the film and upcoming screenings is online at


Norma Martinez can be reached at and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.