Bisbee '17

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Bisbee '17
Bisbee '17 poster.jpg
Directed byRobert Greene
Produced byDouglas Tirola
Susan Bedusa
Bennett Elliott[1]
Music byKeegan DeWitt
CinematographyJarred Alterman
Release date
  • January 20, 2018 (2018-01-20) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • September 5, 2018 (2018-09-05)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$117,470

Bisbee '17 (also Bisbee '17: A Story Told in Six Chapters[2]) is a 2018 film, that is partially documentary and partially based on a true story Western. It was directed by Robert Greene. It reflects on the events of the 1917 Bisbee Deportation, 100 years later; it is set in Bisbee, Arizona, both in 1917 and 2017.


Five years after its statehood and a few months after the United States' entry to the First World War, xenophobia and anti-unionism is growing in the Southernmost towns of Arizona near the Mexican border. In Bisbee, immigrant workers organized and were violently rounded up and transported to the desert in New Mexico; not as famous as the events in nearby Tombstone, the deportation didn't live in the national memory, but is quietly remembered by the townsfolk today. And so at the 100 year anniversary, Bisbee citizens organized a re-enactment. The events unfold again, as if they were happening in 2017, framed alongside interviews with the present day locals.[3]

Panoramic view of Bisbee, Arizona, in 1916, shortly before the Bisbee Deportation


Multiple producers are listed for the film, they are, alphabetically: Susan Bedusa, Dan Cogan, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Bennett Elliott, Davis Guggenheim, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jenny Raskin, Jonathan Silberberg, Nicole Stott, Douglas Tirola, Scott Woelfel, and Stacey Woelfel.[4]

The cast are local people, with a lot of focus placed on Fernando Serrano, a young Mexican-American who became the face of the film. His performance has been praised by several critics.[5]

The film was scored by Keegan DeWitt, with Vox saying that the score "sounds ripped from a ghost movie, spiky and glassy and a little dissonant", but that it fits the tone of the film.[2]

Critical response[edit]

The film has a 94% fresh rating from 54 critics on Rotten Tomatoes.[6] It is listed as a "must see" with "universal acclaim" on Metacritic, having an 87 average from 22 reviews.[7]

Writing for, Matt Zoller Seitz gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising its exploration of more than just the event itself and for the use of certain images, saying about both that "a series of shots of carved-out quarry rock, the multicolored layers stacked up in the frame become metaphors for the movie you're watching, one of many that Bisbee '17 supplies as it goes along". He also wrote that Errol Morris was clearly a big influence on the film.[5]

Vanity Fair looked closer at the interviews with Bisbee residents, and compared the debate with the nation's present political situation in 2017; it notes that some of the views are "disconcerting" but is glad that the film doesn't make judgement.[8] Vox also compared the past with the present, calling the film an "unsettling cipher for America".[2]

The film's use of acting within its narrative has been compared to the other Greene films Actress and Kate Plays Christine by multiple reviewers.[3][5]


  1. ^ "Bisbee '17 About". Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Bisbee '17 is a ghost story, by way of a documentary about a 1917 deportation". Vox. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Review: In 'Bisbee '17,' Anti-Union Violence Haunts an Arizona Town". New York Times. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Bisbee '17 Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Bisbee '17, 2018". Roger Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Bisbee '17". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Bisbee '17". Metacritic. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  8. ^ "A Small Town's Sordid Past Becomes Present in Bisbee '17". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 24 March 2019.