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Before returning to her native Texas in 2016, director, cinematographer, and photojournalist, Maisie Crow, directed and shot a number of short films (including the haunting “Half-Lives: The Chernobyl Workers Now”), worked in television, and served as a Staff Photographer with several Baltimore Sun affiliates. She also completed her debut feature, Jackson—a documentary about the only remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi—which won several awards during its time on the festival circuit. Now, with her latest feature, the one-time Maryland resident has turned her focus to another contentious issue, closer to her first home: security at the United States’ southern border.


Fresh off its World Premiere at Sundance, At the Ready follows a group of students at Horizon High School in El Paso, Texas, who are members of their school’s Criminal Justice Club. As teenagers hoping to eventually secure careers in law enforcement, club members participate in mock active-shooter drills, drug raids, and hostage negotiations after school. But these highly-controlled exercises can only do so much to abate the sense of uncertainty the high-schoolers are feeling as graduation day approaches. With family members on the other side of the border—and at various places on the political spectrum—some students will start to question if they really should go from the cap and gown to the uniform.


Utilizing the full breadth of her talent, Crow crafts a documentary that’s visually crisp and journalistic in its approach. It notably avoids taking a firm stance on issues that many viewers will have very strong feelings about. Rather than spelling out what she thinks, the filmmaker invites us into the lives of a group of students, and through them, we get a look at something that has happened—is happening—in today’s high-schools. How you feel about that, personally, and what you decide to do about it is entirely up to you.


Content considerations: discussions and simulations of violence and gun violence, incidents of strong language

  • Year
    2020
  • Runtime
    96 minutes
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Maisie Crow
  • Producer
    Hillary Pierce, Abbie Perrault, Maisie Crow
  • Executive Producer
    Davis Guggenheim, Jonathan Silberberg, Nicole Stott, Fred Grinstein, Steve Golin, Kathryn Everett, Tony Hsieh, Roberto Grande, Mimi Pham, Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob, Max Kabat
  • Co-Producer
    Braulio Beltran
  • Cast
    Cesar Avila, Mason Daniel Heath Garcia, Cristina Martinez
  • Cinematographer
    Maisie Crow
  • Editor
    Nina Vizcarrondo, Austin Reedy
  • Music
    Adrian Quesada