Arpaio documentary to premiere Friday

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The documentary is called "Two Americans" and tells the story of two Americans who could not be more different: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and a young Latina girl who saw both of her parents arrested during one of Arpaio's infamous crime sweeps.

"It's a good time for the community to have a conversation about what has taken place in Arizona, not only about Sheriff Joe Arpaio but about the way we portray and we treat the immigrant population that lives here," said Valeria Fernandez, a Valley journalist who co-directed the film.

The hour and forty minute documentary tells the story of Katherine Figueroa, now 12, who in 2009 was watching television when she saw her parents being arrested at the Phoenix car wash where they worked.

Her story gained attention after she posted a YouTube video asking President Barack Obama to save her parents from deportation.

Fernandez, and her co-director, filmmaker Dan DeVivo decided to use Figueroa's story to tell a bigger story about Sheriff Arpaio and the controversy that surrounds his every move.

"This is not a hit piece on Sheriff Arpaio," Fernandez said. "This is a really complex documentary that has people and humanity in its heart, including the humanity of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. ... It's going to mean many things to different people."

The filmmakers followed Arpaio over the course of four years. The film also conveys his ongoing popularity among some constituents.

Arpaio, who has only seen the documentary's trailer, says he has no problem with the concept of the film, and hopes it spurns more discourse on immigration issues in Arizona. 

"If it can help, I think that's important and I'll be happy to take the hits if something good can come out of it," Arpaio said. "I wish them luck. I'm not angry at the filmmakers, It's freedom of speech."

"Two Americans" premieres Friday at the Arizona International Film Festival in Tucson.