Friday, April 1, 2011

An Unexpected Detour to Arizona's Death Row

Back in the fall of 2008, Belgian documentary maker S├ębastien Wielemans was in the U.S. southwest interviewing Shawna Forde, head of Arizona's anti-immigration group Minutemen American Defense. Half a year later, he was shocked to learn that Forde had been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

She went on to be found guilty of being the ringleader of the home invasion robbery deaths of 29-year-old Raul Flores and his ten-year-old daughter Brisenia. In 2010, Wielemans returned to Arizona, this time to interview friends and acquaintances of Forde. Just a few months ago, Forde was sentenced to death, becoming just the third woman in the state's history to be sent to death row.

All of this has catapulted Wielemans' project, A Cycle of Fences, into the documentary territory of the pair of films Nick Broomfield made about Aileen Wuornos. Especially since he too, like Broomfield, has kept in touch with Forde by letters. The 52-minute documentary is available on Vimeo:

This English-language, foreign subtitled work is fascinating and highly recommended. In one of the letters sent from jail by Forde to Wielemans, she acknowledges being aware - at the time of the home invasion - of the risks that could come with participating in such a crime.

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