CBSA raid multiple construction sites in Vancouver, accompanied by reality-TV crews

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voice of the damned

I think people here seem to be assuming that Timebandit's use of the word "documentary" implies moral approval. Whereas I don't think it does. It's just a genre description.

Susan Sontag used the term "documentary" to refer to some of the films of Leni Riefenstahl, which of course were produced by the Nazis. But it's clear from her context(moreso in the overall essay, not so much in the passage below) that she despises the politics of the films in question...

Triumph of the Will and Olympia are undoubtedly superb films (they may be the two greatest documentaries ever made), but they are not really important in the history of cinema as an art form. Nobody making films today alludes to Riefenstahl, while many filmmakers (including myself) regard Dziga Vertov as an inexhaustible provocation and source of ideas about film language. Yet it is arguable that Vertov—the most important figure in documentary films—never made a film as purely effective and thrilling as Triumph of the Will or Olympia. (Of course, Vertov never had the means at his disposal that Riefenstahl bad. The Soviet government's budget for propaganda films in the 1920s and early 1930s was less than lavish.)


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

kropotkin1951 wrote:
Yes she is a documentary maker and owner of a production company. So she is an expert just like Enbridge is an expert on pipelines and if they say that tar sands bitumen is crude oil then we must accept that definition because it is the oil industry's standard definition.

kropotkin, this is a personal attack. Smearing Timebandit why equating her with Enbridge is not on the level. You can disagree with her definition without resorting to this. TB is by all accounts an ethical documentarian with a progressive political interest.

voice of the damned wrote:
I think people here seem to be assuming that Timebandit's use of the word "documentary" implies moral approval. Whereas I don't think it does. It's just a genre description.

I don't think TB has implied moral approval as such -- she's taken pains to say that criticism of the project is still valid; but that doesn't mean that the generic categories of documentary vs. reality-television doesn't have ethical content. I'm pretty good at evaluating those categories, although my lens and criteria are clearly very different from TB's. And it's not true to say that there's nothing at stake in the distinction. That said, there's not much headway to make in this discussion vis a vis TB's perspective, so speaking personally, I'm letting the matter drop.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Sorry if you took that as a personal attack because it was not meant to be. I have no doubt that she is an ethical producer but she is still giving industry spin.  What industry can I compare her industry to that would not be a personal attack? I find her use of narrow industry definitions to be the journalistic equivalent of green washing Force Fours garbage.

Since you are the writer Catchfire maybe you could rewrite my post to convey that in a manner that the "modbosses" would approve of.



I don't think this video has been posted yet. It's a few days old, but still worth watching. [url=]Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal speaks about CBSA reality-TV raids[/url]


We were discussing postmodernism in another thread, where I offered that the title 'postmodern' is an incorrect description, often invoked by people who to my mind are functioning from a narrow perspective of their own time and circumstances, or from too grandiose of one perhaps.



I just posted something in another thread which reminded me that Harper may have some control over this show, but if it happens, there is still a good chance it could come back and bite them in the ass - either by putting the issue in the public eye and having it turn against them, or if they inadvertently let something slip that they do not intend to.

They are already being seriously criticized for it. It far from a risk-free venture. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a trial balloon, and that they have not yet made a final decision.


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Border agency broke law with reality TV self-promotion, says BCCLA

The BC Civil Liberties Association filed a formal complaint with the federal Privacy Commissioner today on behalf of a migrant worker who had been filmed for the Canada Border Services Agency’s reality television series. The complaint, brought by the BCCLA with Oscar Mata Duran, alleges that CBSA’s use of a reality TV crew to record its interactions with people is illegal and that it violated Mr. Mata Duran’s rights under the federal Privacy Act. Mr. Mata Duran was detained on suspicion of working in Canada without proper documentation, and was deported yesterday. The complaint was launched today at a press conference at which a broad range of civil society groups joined together in opposition to the CBSA’s decision to transform its operations into a source of commercial entertainment.

“Federal agents should not come crashing into people’s workplaces and homes with commercial TV crews filming their actions like some sort of action movie,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. “That violates people’s privacy rights – in this case, the rights of a vulnerable migrant worker – and we think it violates Canada’s privacy law. The federal government must respect the rights of every person it deals with, regardless of their immigration status. Mr. Mata Duran has filed a complaint to the federal Privacy Commissioner alleging that the government’s use of a reality TV crew to film his arrest and interrogation was unlawful and we will pursue this complaint in his absence from Canada.”

More than an hour after Mr. Mata Duran’s interrogation in front of the TV cameras, he was asked to sign a consent form for the filming, without a full explanation of what he was signing or how the video footage would be used. The complaint sets out that Mr. Mata Duran was in CBSA detention and was afraid when he signed the form, and that he did not understand the meaning of the document. The complaint states that Mr. Mata Duran cannot be considered to have freely given his consent under the circumstances.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Reality tv immigration raid: interview with Max Haiven

Analysis on the distorted reality (audio)

There is detailed background before the interview. 

Here are a few summary notes:

On Wednesday, March 13th Canada Border Services Agency – Canada's armed immigration / border police – raided an East Vancouver construction site with a private film crew in tow. They were in search of what they viewed as illegal workers.

The CBSA made several arrests that day. One man, Oscar Mata has already been deported to Mexico as of March 20th. Three of the men were told on Friday March 22nd that they would be forced to remain in jail until their deportation date, currently not set. A fifth man is set to undergo a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment, as he is claiming refugee status. A sixth man has been released on conditions.

The incident was filmed as part of a new series that airs on the National Geographic channel called “Border Security: Canada's Front Line.” the series is being produced by a Canadian production company called Force Four Entertainment.

To dissect the meaning of this Border Security series, the fodder of reality tv in general, and how it all relates to present day society, I've got an interview with Max Haiven, post doctoral fellow in the Department of Art and Public Policy at New York University. Additionally, he teaches locally in the area of Cultural Studies at NSCAD University.


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Deportation is Not Entertainment! Rally against Force Four

12:00pm - 1:00pm

Thursday March 28 2013

Venue: Force Four Entertainment

Address: 56 East 2nd Ave

On THURSDAY, MARCH 28, there will be a rally at the front of Force Four Entertainment's head office to deliver a petition to cancel the reality TV show, Border Security. 20,000+ have already signed the petition via

Join us in the protest of this racist reality style TV show that profits from exploitation, suffering, and division of migrant people and their families.

Sign the petition to Cancel Border Security:

More updates on the raids and reality show:


[url=]One episode down, a series to go.[/url]

CBSA and Force Four Force have confirmed that footage from the immigration raid on March 13 won’t be broadcast!

A recent Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) memo cites “negative public response.”

Diana Thompson, an Indigenous woman whose husband Tulio Renan Hernandez was filmed and has since been deported to Honduras, says “We all feel extremely relieved by the news and are grateful to everyone who spoke out. We want this episode and the whole show cancelled.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Canada settles for only "mostly racist" once again!