The Undocumented by Marco Williams

Trailer (:30)
Clip ( 3:15)
Clip (1:45)
Clip (2:27)

About the Film

Border Patrol agents help an ailing migrant border crosser

Border Patrol agents help an ailing migrant border crosser

Migrant body found in the desert

Migrant body found in the desert

Migrant bodies in morgue waiting for identification

Migrant bodies in morgue waiting for identification

Body covered by a sheet lying on a coroner’s table

Body covered by a sheet lying on a coroner’s table

Photos by Matt Nager

Marcos Hernandez lives and works in Chicago. He came to the United States from Mexico, after a life-threatening border crossing through the Sonora Desert in southern Arizona. Each month, he sends money to his mother in Mexico City to buy medicine for his brother, Gustavo, who needs a kidney transplant. The Undocumented, by acclaimed filmmaker Marco Williams, is Marcos’s story—as well as the story of countless other migrants.

But Marcos has another reason for coming to Chicago. He is searching for his father, Francisco, also an undocumented border crosser, who disappeared in the Sonora Desert while entering the U.S. Marcos’s hunt for his father forms the film’s central narrative thread.

Chronicling Arizona’s deadliest summer months, award-winning documentary and fiction film director Marco Williams (Banished, Two Towns of Jasper, In Search of Our Fathers) weaves Marcos’s search with the efforts of humanitarians and Border Patrol agents who are fighting to prevent migrant deaths, the medical investigators and Mexican Consulate workers who are trying to identify dead border crossers, and Mexican families who are struggling to accept the loss of a loved one.

This is not a passive dialogue. The characters in The Undocumented don’t just talk about migrant deaths; they are immersed in it. They patrol the desert and rescue people from the brink of death. They discover piles of bones picked apart by wild animals. They wheel bodies in and out of refrigerated storage rooms and express their distress over a missing family member. And when the film arrives at the home of a migrant family in Mexico, that family is captured at the very apex of their grief.

In true cinéma vérité style, The Undocumented by Marco Williams reveals the ongoing impact of immigration laws and economic policies on the very people who continue to be affected by them. By going beyond politics, the film also tells a story that is deeply personal.

The Filmmaker

Filmmaker Marco Williams

Acclaimed documentary and fiction film director Marco Williams’s directing credits include Inside the New Black Panthers; Banished (Independent Lens, Sundance); Freedom Summer; I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education; MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream; Two Towns of Jasper (P.O.V., Sundance); Making Peace: Rebuilding our Communities (PBS); The Pursuit of Happiness: With Arianna Huffington (PBS); Without A Pass (Showtime, Sundance); In Search of Our Fathers (Frontline, Sundance, the Whitney Biennial); and From Harlem To Harvard. His film awards include a George Foster Peabody Award, an Emmy Award, the Beacon Award, the Alfred I duPont Silver Baton, the Pan African Film Festival Outstanding Documentary Award, the Full Frame Documentary Festival Spectrum Award, and the National Association of Black Journalists First Place Salute to Excellence Award.