LISTEN: Documentary to depict Quartzsite people and politics

A new documentary film by Cyle O’Donnell is set to depict the town of Quartzsite, AZ and its politics, rivalries and melodrama.

O’Donnell describes the film like this: “From allegations of corruption, police harassment and embezzlement, to a murder-for-hire scandal between the first two mayors, the tiny, desert town of Quartzsite, Arizona has seen conflict reserved only for major cities. Now Mike Roth and the police chief he says falsely arrested him are both running for sheriff in the 2020 elections.”

The complex story has been unfolding for years around 40 minutes south of Parker, and many of the original ‘characters’ are still around. But O’Donnell says he didn’t intend to be making the film at all.

“I actually stumbled onto this latest project while filming a travel and culture series I’ve been producing for the last ten years across 43 countries,” he told Parker Live. “Quartzsite is a hub for travelers, and so I was there in February last year filming the insider’s perspective of the nomadic movement when I met Rain Goldenbear. Her interview changed the course of the last year-and-a-half of my life which has essentially been interviewing nearly 60 witnesses across 11 Arizona towns, from judges and attorneys, to police chiefs and newspaper reporters, to politicians and council people, to activists that have ultimately become the centerpiece of the project. In fact, they even inspired the name of the film, Big Trouble in Little Quartzsite.”

The events in Quartzsite, O’Donnell believes, encapsulate many of the issues playing out across the nation today, from individual liberty to police power.

“It’s a microcosm for everything we’re seeing across national headlines right now; corruption, police brutality, systemic imbalances and so on. The film will discuss its early roots, but mostly focuses on the last 30 years,” he said.

A ‘camel driver’ known as Hi Jolly, a b-movie star, a gum museum, a naked bookseller, a murder-for-hire plot between two mayors, an armed march by a right-wing group on Town Hall, giant rock and gem shows, rumors of martial law, hirings and firings and allegations of corruption, Alex Jones and the front cover of the USA Today all factor into the history in Quartzsite. And the story is still ongoing.

“Mike Roth, who plays a major role in the film, is running for sheriff,” O’Donnell said. William Ponce is, too, who was an officer in Quartzsite back when Chief Jeff Gilbert was being accused by Roth of corruption. “So what I’d like to do is have this film released before October, just in time for the November elections. I’d like to see this film come out before then because it is packed full of very relevant and timely issues that face every Arizonan, and every American right now. And since Arizona has something of a history of making impactful statements on political issues throughout the states, I want this film to be a part of that discussion.”

Because he didn’t know what he was getting into, O’Donnell is over-budget on the documentary, which is now also a podcast. He’s offering supporters a free copy of the film in exchange for donations that will allow him to cover editing and other post-production costs.

The film’s website can be found at

Listen above to Parker Live’s longer interview with Cyle O’Donnell.


  1. Diane

    Good luck with that shit show

  2. Sandra Johnson

    Jenara, what kind of town do you guys live in??? Hahahahaha

  3. Jenara Rivera

    Well… There’s no traffic.

  4. Ambrose Buford

    thee MOron Jeffy gillbert was inn waaay to deep cause hes not very smart man riddents to yous and kiss Rudney Mendozers butticks like yous used to due

  5. Mishelle Beagle

    Lots of Qanoners there, I’ve noticed.

  6. Robin Schilling

    Click on the link and watch the video. It is quite interesting and frankly it is insane.

  7. Shanana Rain Bear

    Watch filmmaker present a different version of the project to Town Council back in February. Scroll forward 9 minutes.

  8. ROTH is an embarrassment to running for sheriff!! Only thing he talks about is guns and being arrested 3 times…what a joke…Admitted not to having law enforcement experience was another one. So get lost dude!! The other 3 guys running have a combined of close to 100 years of experience to this guys being arrested 3 times is the only experience…i retired from California and know that its gonna take knowledge and experience to run and be sheriff…..if your own deputies dont trust you, what makes the community will?

  9. I hope every person listed in this bullshit “documentary” sues Cyle for libel or slander. What a horrible thing to dredge up all this old crap. Quartzsite currently has a wonderful town council and this slanderous garbage has been promoted by none other than Mike Roth who would dearly love to be the town sheriff, except most people cannot stand him and laugh at his antics. Mike (and Cyle) have gone too far with this smear campaign. This needs to be taken down, and apology should be forthcoming from both Mike and Cyle!! The ONLY people interviewed for this alleged documentary were people who have always had negative issues or “agendas” with the town…regardless who was the mayor, sheriff, or town manager!

  10. who is the interviewer?

  11. Stop spreading fake news gummybear! I remember him. the town council passed on his offer. So they can’t complain if he makes a different version. But second at 29:30 of your video you can clearly here him say that he was showing you “snippets of part 4” and talks about the other parts that are not like that one. so he is obviously not lying. What is it with this town and your fear mongering? Let the man make movie about the town. No one else would do it this good.

  12. No Ponce for Sheriff

  13. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a fact that I learned a decade ago when the editor of The Desert Messenger newspaper in Quartzsite, Arizona asked me to come to the next town council meeting to witness the political bullying taking place by certain citizens at the podium.
    After witnessing for myself what was described to me, I called for a women’s council meeting.

    Several female residents met at the editor’s home to discuss strategies for ending this nightmare at town council meetings. The next town council meeting found us raising our hand-made NO BULLYING
    signs each time we witnessed bullying behavior at the podium.

    Horizon Community Bank supported us by ordering
    500 bumper stickers:

    We did everything in our power to stop the bullying that trickled down to any and every person that dared to support police chief Jeff Gilbert against the blue treason in progress, and here we are nine years later with nine days before the election of La Paz County Sheriff.

    I couldn’t think of a better time to bring people up to speed on the Truth of Big Trouble in Little Quartzsite.????

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