Filmmakers behind Arpaio documentary: 'This is a really complex film'

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Valeria Fernandez, a Valley journalist, and filmmaker Dan DeVivo are the forces behind a new documentary that takes an intimate look at the contentious issue of illegal immigration through the eyes of two very different people --  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 called "Two Americans."

"For people who live in Arizona, this is going to be a very thoughtful, riveting film to watch," Fernandez said. "This is not a hit piece on Sheriff Arpaio. ... This is a really complex film."

DeVivo said said Arpaio was extremely cooperative during the shooting.

"I was surprised at the depth to which he allowed us to like hang out and get some unscripted takes," he said. "I think that the audience will benefit from this because you'll get a really up-close and personal look [behind the scenes of the sheriff's operation]."

In addition to looking at the issue from Arpaio's point of view, the film looks at the flip side through 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.

The little girl's story is a compelling one.

"She's the face of a lot of Latinas, not only here in Arizona, but across the nation," Fernandez said.

Some people have expressed concern that the film might be skewed either pro Arpaio or anti Arpaio. Fernandez and DeVivo say that's not the case at all.

"We are giving opportunities for multiple sides of this debate to be aired," DiVivo explained. "It's not a one-sided film. But it is a film with a  heart and a mind.

"We really get inside the inner-workings of Joe's organization so you understand the law-enforcement mind set," he continued. "We give a chance to let that breathe and resonate. As we do, we get inside the heart of this Latino-American family, and we give that heart a chance to beat, as well.

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