Strangers, ambiguity and identity on films about immigrating

    Evaporating Borders

Review by Norika SEFA

Stories of shifting borders and cultural paradigms, films that make us think about the impact of immigration on abstract notions of nationhood, good at identifying trends in practices of othering, difference and exclusion are bringing controversial long debates, being a preoccupation of the artists and very much gathering the audience.

“Evaporating Borders” made by Iva Radivojevic which was part of the Ballcan Dox category, in this edition of DokuFest film festival, portrays within 5 chapters the migrants on the island of Cyprus, illustrating the empathy and ability to capture the fears and frustrations of people, which is more like a visual commentary on the history, tolerance, discrimination and belonging. People, notion, escape, return has been also hunting the director of the “Endless Escape, Eternal Return” Harutyun Khachatryan who has been exploring a national portrait and rootlessness among Armenian exiles for many years now.

This movie is the first part of 5 documentaries and Khachatryan is portraying the life of Hayk, a theater director settled in Moscow, a film that looks on a feeling of fullness and escaping from a world where people ask for nationality that makes the identity becomes so performative we lose all sense of subjectivity and reflexivity. This makes Hayk take a distance from people and live between the animals who will not ask for such definitions. Hayk adventures takes a Don Quixote enthusiastic note of describing and embodies with an illusionary world where he can feel safer as a lord of himself. This film

was part of the “Armenian Perspective”, a special category on this year’s edition of the festival. There were another film “Between two Worlds” from the national category, a film made by Sabidin Aliu, which explores the vicissitudes of the macedonian going to Swaziland , being on this unsettled , fearless ground of the big dilemma to stay there for ever or turn back again in Macedonia. This not investing on space and time that gave one a loose feeling, emptiness and a nostalgic for the old times.

These films are following observations and emotions about what it means to be without a country without getting into reactionary political statements and they don’t clearly stands directors opinion, what make the immigrating still seems an issue that is bringing lot of complex debates but not any promissory solution. Within this category of films we meet complex psychosocial process of lasting effects on an individual identity and while we are still facingthis social and cultural identities being founded on difference and shaped in relation to societal norms we meet characters struggling with “culture shock” and since there aren’t any concrete solution they have been more dimensions or drive, distance, nostalgia, tone of tragedy and anger which is here reminding us of any possible trouble, knowing and believing in Darwin’s theory of evolution who coined the phrase the ‘survival of the fittest’. Maybe there will be movies a lot of other good detailed rich on facts movies about those troubles to come but will there be a director to express a concise personal statement?