Jefferson Stein’s OSCAR-qualified Indigenous short film BURROS shares a story about the harsh realities of living by the border at the Tohono O’odham Nation

Buzz, Film

BURROS is a beautiful, moving story of a six-year-old Indigenous girl who discovers a Latina migrant her age who has lost her father while traveling through the Tohono O’odham tribal lands into the United States. This topical film qualified for OSCAR® consideration when it won the Best Live Action Short award at the New York International Children’s Film Festival and has been receiving numerous accolades; including the recent Moonwalker Best Short Award at the Nòt Film Fest.

In southern Arizona, twenty miles from the Mexico border, a young Indigenous girl discovers a Latina migrant her age who has been separated from her father while traveling through the Tohono O’odham tribal lands into the United States.

The capital of the Tohono O’odham Nation is twenty miles from the Mexican border and spans both sides of the U.S. and Mexico. The Sonoran Desert hits triple-digit temperatures in the summer months, and thousands of migrants travel through these lands. Due to the dangerous conditions, according to Border Patrol data, 7,209 migrants have died while crossing over the last 20 years, although the non-profit organization Border Angeles estimates the toll is higher. Thousands of children have also gone missing.

Director Jefferson Stein’s short TUMBLE DRY LOW screened at Seattle International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, and was selected for the Shoot New Director’s Showcase. It also premiered on Short of the Week and garnered 2.5 million views. The award-winning film BURROS is his acclaimed current film, and his debut feature script, WHERE THE SUN MEETS MAGDALENA, is set in the same world as BURROS; the script was an Academy Nicoll Fellowship in Screenwriting quarterfinalist.

BURROS is produced by Film Independent Spirit Award Winner Liz Cardenas (7 Days, Never Goin’ Back, A Ghost Story) and was awarded a Film Independent fiscal sponsorship. The live-action short film premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival; won Best Short at Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival, and Arizona International Film Festival.

The film was also produced by Russell Shaeffer (Thou Wast Mild & Lovely, Jules of Light and Dark), produced by the award-winning creative Douglas Riggs (I Was There Too) and executive produced by Larry ‘Bear’ Wilson and Camillus Lopez who are members of the Tohono O’odham Nation. The beautiful cinematography was shot by Cole Graham.

Now this authentic film can be seen at New York Latino Film Festival, Catalina Film Festival, Port Townsend Film Festival, Indie Street Film Festival, Albuquerque Film & Music Experience, Bolton Film Festival and could be nominated for an Academy Award®.