By this point I’m assuming most people are sick of hearing about the new “Show Me Your Papers” law in Arizona, so I thought I would annoy you with it one more time. (If you are just coming back from a long hike in the Adirondacks and don’t know what I’m talking about, you can get a roundup here.)
The thing that fascinated me about this is that everyone is looking at this law from the perspective of WWII Nazi movies. This idea was popularized by Seth Meyers of “SNL”’s Weekend Update:
I couldn’t help thinking that WWII Nazi movies aren’t the only films where characters ask others to show their papers. A recent one that came to my mind was Amreeka, about a Palestinian family. In that movie, I felt not just the humiliation of going through a checkpoint, but it made me think about the hassle of it. Checkpoints mean traffic jams. You’re going to get home late. You are going to sit in a sweaty car. And there is always implicit danger if you happen to get a hot-headed soldier or one who has had a bad day.
Imagine you are Latino citizen on your way home from a Cinco de Mayo parade. You may have all the ID in the world, but you aren’t going to get home in time to watch “Lost.”
The whole idea of being asked for my ID makes me sick to my stomach. Cops have always unnerved me. They make me stupid. I remember once being interrogated by a customs agent. He asked me what I did for a living, and I said I was a film publicist. So he asked me what movies I was working on and I had no idea. If I lived in Arizona and they asked me for my ID, I would probably get so nervous that I would give them my Banana Republic charge card. “Wise guy, eh? We know what to do with wise guys like you.” I could have my passport and driver’s license in my front pocket and I’d get Tasered anyway.
Anyway, I was thinking, why not a Raising Arizona Film Festival dedicated to the best “Show Me Your Papers” movies? What are your favorites? Please put them in your comments.
I don’t remember if the aliens in District 9 had to show papers. If they had papers, I don’t know where they’d put them, as they didn’t wear pants. But I doubt they would have let those gross-looking guys out, even with papers.
Any fondly remembered apartheid movies? I don’t remember if anybody had to show papers in Cry Freedom.
Berlin? There must have been a lot of people who had to show papers at Checkpoint Charlie.
Help me out here, folks.
Reid Rosefelt is a veteran film publicist based in New York City. He has promoted hundreds of films, for such diverse moviemakers as Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodóvar, Errol Morris, Ang Lee and Werner Herzog. His personal clients have included The Sundance Institute, IFC and HBO Films, as well as Harvey Keitel, Ally Sheedy and the late Adrienne Shelly. His production publicity credits include Desperately Seeking Susan, The Godfather: Part III and, most recently, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. His blog can be found at http://my-life-as-a-blog.com/.