Reel Borders

A collection of films exploring borders and identity.

Reel Borders is a 5-year research project (Reel Borders European Research Council Starting Grant #948278) focusing on the relations between film and borders. It studies how for the past 120 years film has been used to imagine borders in diverse ways. Acknowledging that borders are more than territorial lines or infrastructures, the project also considers questions of belonging, identity and imagination, approaching those topics through different societal actors such as governmental institutions, artists and activists, asking how they use film to construct, contest or experience the border. The often-blurred boundaries between fiction and non-fiction film and between professional and amateur film are a fruitful starting point to explore these questions. The project concentrates on three borderlands and regions: the Ireland/UK border, the Spanish/Moroccan border and its Ceuta and Melilla exclaves, and the Turkish/Syrian border. Methodologically, the project combines film analysis, expert interviews, production analysis and archival participatory filmmaking.

What is the Irish border to its inhabitants? A checkpoint? An opportunity for taking care of their neighbours despite their beliefs? An imperialist form of control and surveillance? A matter of identity?

Commissioned by the Reel Borders Project (Vrije University Brussels) and in cooperation with the Nerve Centre, Derry, four amateur documentary short films seek to answer these questions. Shot by Irish border dwellers, these non-professional filmmakers explore their personal stories using archival collections filmed in Donegal and Derry.

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