Alex Rivera: 2021 MacArthur Fellow

Alex was awarded a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship.

Power and Visibility: The Unfinished Story of ‘The Infiltrators’

On January 29, 2021, the International Documentary Association published an essay Alex wrote about Claudio Rojas, protagonist of The Infiltrators, and his deportation after the premiere of the film. You can read the full essay here.

“Sleep Dealer” and the Border Politics of Tech w/ Alex Rivera

On the podcast, ‘Tech Won’t Save Us,’ host Paris Marx is joined by Alex Rivera to discuss his 2008 film Sleep Dealer and how it imagined exploitative technologies being implemented in a future Mexico of hardened borders and limited migration. Listen to the conversation here.

Alex Rivera speaks at ‘Platform’ summit on diversity in science fiction

In 2014 Alex joined the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Maria Hinojosa, and others, at Morehouse College for a conversation about ‘Diversifying the Innovation Economy.’ He spoke about the need to imagine the future from diverse points of view.

Alex Rivera discusses drones on NPR’s “To The Best Of Our Knowledge”

On August 10, 2014, NPR aired an in-depth interview with Alex Rivera covering drones as “The Meme of our Times“

Alex Rivera debates Philip Kennicott on “Latino Art”

On October 25, 2013, The Washington Post published their review of a new exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art.” The negative review went so far as to question Latino art as a “meaningful category.” In a now common 21st century ritual, I expressed my anger in a Facebook post, and I tagged the author of the review, Philip Kennicott. Philip invited me to migrate the debate from Facebook to his home turf, the Washington Post. The debate was published online and in print.

BORDER CONTROL: Interview with The New Inquiry

First published by The New Inquiry

New Inquiry Senior Editor Malcolm Harris spoke with artist Alex Rivera. The writer-director of the 2008 sci-film Sleep Dealer, Rivera has been working with drones since the 1990s, when he piloted a small quad-copter called the Low Drone back and forth over the Mexican-American border.

Malcolm Harris: You’ve been a drone fanatic for so long, using them both as subject and medium, and it seems like the wider culture is finally catching up to you. As a very early adopter, why do you think drones have captured the public consciousness in the way they have?

Alex Rivera: The drone is the most visceral and intense expression of the transnational/telepresent world we inhabit. In almost every facet of our lives, from the products we use, to the food we consume, from the customer service representatives around the planet who work in the U.S. via the telephone, to the workers who leave their families and travel from all corners of the world to care for children in the U.S., in every aspect of our lives we live in a trans-geographic reality. The nonplace, the transnational vortex, is everywhere, ever present.

Science Fiction From Below

Interview with Mark Engler. Edited by John Feffer, May 13, 2009 — First published at Foreign Policy in Focus

Tapping into a long tradition of politicized science fiction, the young, New-York-based filmmaker Alex Rivera has brought to theaters a movie that reflects in new ways on the disquieting realities of the global economy. Sleep Dealer, his first feature film, has opened in New York and Los Angeles, and will show in 25 cities throughout the country this spring.

Set largely on the U.S.-Mexico border, Sleep Dealer depicts a world in which borders are closed but high-tech factories allow migrant workers to plug their bodies into the network to provide virtual labor to the North. The drama that unfolds in this dystopian setting delves deep into issues of immigration, labor, water rights, and the nature of sustainable development.

Bananas! Split: Filmmaker Community Divides Over Dole Documentary

Alex Rivera, July 5, 2009 — First published on Indiewire

A simmering controversy at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival has torn at the community here, dividing filmmakers, frustrating festival staff, and frightening festival sponsors. Questions of filmmaking ethics are being debated day and night against the backdrop of potential lawsuits from one of America’s biggest corporations.

The film in the eye of the storm is “Bananas!*,” a documentary which centers on Juan Dominguez, a personal injury lawyer and epic film character.