MARCH 11–21, 2021


The Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival

Border Incidents: The US-Mexico Border in Film Noir

Programmed by Rob King, Film & Media Studies
Managed by Soheil Rezayazdi, Columbia Film


The abridged, virtual 2021 Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival presented three films set at the US-Mexico border: Anthony Mann’s Border Incident (1949), John Farrow’s Where Danger Lives (1950), and Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958). All films streamed free of charge between March 11-21, 2021 and included pre-recorded introductions from Columbia University film scholars.


The border has long been both a third rail in American politics and a recurrent setting in crime fiction. It is a place where goods entering the US can become “contraband” and the citizens of neighboring states “undocumented immigrants.” Yet the border is also a zone where domestic crime seeks its own escape, evading the arm of US law to find safe haven. The border has in this way functioned in American popular culture as a shadow zone where categories of legality and illegality are constructed and reconstructed; a place, one might imagine, ripe for noir.


This virtual festival culminated with a roundtable discussion with scholars and activists, including  Jonathan Ryan (RAICES), Jonathan Auerbach (University of Maryland), Margarita de Orellana (Artes de México), and Homi Bhabha (Harvard University). Click here to read our in-depth festival introduction. Festival films included introductions by School of the Arts professors James Schamus and Annette Insdorf, and Columbia College alum Matthew Rivera ’18.


This festival is funded by a generous gift from alumnus Gordon Kit ’76 (Columbia College), in honor of his parents.


Co-presented by the Film Program and Office of Public Programs and Engagement at Columbia University School of the Arts; and Columbia Global Centers.


For more information, contact [email protected].