Reframe Spotlight: ‘The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández’

In director Kieran Fitzgerald's in-depth documentary looks at an incident in 1997 in the border town of Redford, Texas. U.S. Marine teams, fully camouflaged and armed with M16 rifles, had been secretly deployed to their section of the border. Farmers like the Hernández family, who lived by the river, went on working their fields and tending to their livestock. On the evening of May 20, 18-year-old Esequiel Hernández Jr. left the house to tend to his family's goats, taking with him, as usual, a .22 rifle to keep away wild dogs. It was the last evening of his life.

In The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández, Fitzgerald investigates the incident in which a Marine killed Hernández while assigned to survey drug traffic on the Mexican border. In fact, the director is the first to conduct in-depth interviews with three of the four Marines who were on the patrol, along with interviewing witnesses and various experts.

Tommy Lee Jones narrates the film.

And if you are thinking this sounds similar to Jones' fantastic directing effort, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, you'd be right; he loosely adapted this incident for his film.

To rent or buy The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández, go to the Reframe Collection.