#SUNDANCE: “AT THE READY”
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
At The Ready is an enthralling, insightful and all-around excellent Documentary.
It follows students at Horizon High School in El Paso, Texas who are enrolled in law enforcement classes and join the after-school program: Criminal Justice Club. The program puts students in mock-up situations in order to prepare them for a career with the police force, border patrol or DEA. The Documentary primarily focuses on Mexican-American students Mason (known as Kassy in the film), Cesar and recent graduate Cristina, who each strive toward their law enforcement aspirations.
The Documentary is set in 2018-2019, at which time migrants were seeking asylum at the U.S-Mexico border. The teachers of these classes and program ask the students to debate if what the Government was imposing was warranted. In these captivating scenes we witness the students respectfully and clearly voice their differing opinions. It’s inspiring to watch and insightful to listen to.
The Film is focused in these debates and the impact the Government orders have on those working within law enforcement. Director Maisie Crow also includes the Texas Senate Race which saw Ted Cruz beat Beto O’Rourke. All of these clips come together to show that law enforcement takes command from the Government. Yet, it’s the enforcement officers who many blame for carrying out the orders.
Crow directs this powerful Film in a way that makes audiences view enforcement officers as individuals rather than collective units. She humanizes the individuals working in these positions, allowing us to see the person and not the label. Therefore, we question our own opinions of these careers and those working within them. Crow does this while reminding us that there are good and bad people within every profession.
At the heart of the Documentary are the adolescents, primarily Mason, Cesar and Cristina. Each struggle with the Government’s orders, the realities of these jobs, and how they may be at odds with those they love most. It’s their stories that make At The Ready have immense emotional impact that will stay with us for years to come.
At The Ready screens at Sundance:
Live Premiere: January 31 at 12 PM (EST)
On-Demand (available for 24 hours): February 2 at 10 AM (EST)