Crossing Brooks County

Those who cross the United States - Mexico border in Brooks County, Texas often face devastating consequences. This film paints a portrait of life and death 70 miles north of the border.  

Crossing Brooks County screened at NFFTY 2016 at The Human Race screening and took home the Audience Award. 


From left to right: Kaley Belval, Nina Lindberg and Eric Cotton 

From left to right: Kaley Belval, Nina Lindberg and Eric Cotton 

Kaley's bio: 

Kaley Belval is currently a Graphic Designer for the Idaho Mountain Express in Ketchum, Idaho. She designs advertisements and works on the layout of the paper, as well as uploading content to the paper's website and helping to integrate video into the newsroom. She is also the Production Coordinator for the Family of Woman Film Festival, which brings films made by/about women from all over the world in order to "think globally and act locally". Belval was an Associate Producer on the PBS film, Munich '72 and Beyond immediately after graduation from Ithaca College. She is originally from Woodbury, CT and has a Bachelor of Arts in Documentary Studies and Production with minors in Women's & Gender Studies and Honors.

Eric's bio: 

Eric Cotton is the Assistant Editor and Archival Associate Producer for Insignia Films in New York City. After recently completing a three-part, six-hour series on WWI for The American Experience on PBS, Cotton is now working on a one-hour piece about the SeaLab experiments of the 1960s. SeaLab (WT) is also set to air on The American Experience on PBS. He is currently coordinating post production activity for the film, as well as conducting all of the archival research. Cotton also recently worked for Ark Media in New York City as an archival associate producer for the PBS series Finding Your Roots. Cotton is originally from Naples, New York. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2015 with a major in Television and Radio with a concentration in Documentary Production.

Nina's bio: 

Nina Lindberg is currently the Video Production Coordinator for the Colgate University Athletics Department in Hamilton, New York. Lindberg manages all of the department’s live and pre-produced video requirements.She produces season preview videos, athletic department features and handles assorted photography assignments. She is also directs all live board shows for the Class of 1965 Hockey Arena. In addition to her work at Colgate, Lindberg has also worked with the NCAA Digital and Social department at the FCS Division 1 Football National Championship Game in Frisco, Texas and the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Lansing, New York, native is a 2015 graduate of Ithaca College, majoring in documentary studies and production.


Why did you decide to make this film?

Kaley: We decided to make this film, originally, as part of a class our junior year at Ithaca College. After completing the course, we chose to continue it as our thesis project because we found the story too important to stop working on. Immigration is not something that any of us were directly affected by, but it has become something we are extremely passionate about. We wanted to help others learn more about it as well, especially in light of all the current talk about undocumented immigration.

Eric: We decided to make this film because we felt that it was an extremely important story to tell. With today's political climate, it is easy to get lost in all of the statistics and name calling and forget that these are real people who are risking their lives to come here to try to improve their circumstances. We decided to make this film to try to bring the focus back to the humane issues surrounding undocumented immigration.

Nina: It was the Brooks County community that ultimately inspired us to create this film. From the mayor, to the sheriff's department, to local ranchers, the majority of people of Brooks County truly cared about the lives of those crossing the border. Regardless of political ideals, they cared about their safety and they understood that these people were not criminals but often criminalized. This film forced us to take a step back from the political drama portrayed in mainstream media and recognize the incredible humanitarian effort taking place in the small Southern Texas County. 

What was your favorite part about making it?

Kaley: My favorite part about making Crossing Brooks County was learning about each person’s individual perspective that we came in contact with. Although we definitely did not agree with the perspective of some people that we interviewed, it helped to understand where the other side was coming from and just how greatly immigration impacts everyone. It gave me a new perspective on my own privileges, as an American citizen, as well as the issue of immigration as a whole.

Eric: My favorite part about making this film was getting to meet so many warm hearted people. From the sheriff's department to the family members of immigrants to the ranchers, everyone really opened themselves up to us and made us feel welcomed.

Nina: My favorite part about making this film was getting to know everyone involved. We were able to build a trusting relationship with many of those featured in the piece because they knew we had their best interest at heart. With that in mind, they really opened up to us. They invited us into their homes, introduced us to their friends and family, and really made us feel welcome in their community.

What are you working on now?

Kaley: I am currently working as a graphic designer for the Idaho Mountain Express, designing ads as well as page layout for the paper (and working on integrating video production into the newsroom too). I am also the Production Assistant for the upcoming 10th Annual Family of Woman Film Festival, helping with all of the technological needs for the screenings and events. This past year, I worked as an Associate Producer on the documentary Munich ’72 and Beyond, which was aired on PBS and was an official selection of a number of film festivals.

Eric: I'm currently an Assistant Editor and Associate Producer with Insignia Films. After spending the last year working on a three part, six hour series titled The Great War, I have begun working on a new project about early saturated diving experiments conducted by the US government in the 1960s. Both of these projects are being made for PBS's American Experience.

Nina: I am currently the Video Production Coordinator for Colgate University Athletics. I create content such as short features, hype videos, PSA's, and highlight packages for our website, social media, and video boards at our ice hockey and football facilities

Find Kaley, Eric, Nina & Crossing Brooks County online: