Die Grenze (The Border) – Film Series by Thomas Arslan

Die Grenze (The Border) – Film Series by Thomas Arslan

Lecture by Thomas Arslan on 10. February, 7 pm

The film series The Border deals with besieged and disputed borders. For those who are unwelcome, crossing it represents a life-threatening risk. On the “other side” these borders are guarded with a complex military and police apparatus. This is where projections meet, which differ from one another depending on which side one is looking from. Here a fear of what is foreign, of other cultures, of being overwhelmed by their “poverty” and their “backwardness” meets the hope and the longing for a better life more in keeping with human dignity.

The film series shows works that deal with the border and its effects in different ways. In some of the films the border or border region is the main setting; in others it is less immediately present, but still an important point of reference.

Thomas Arslan (*1962), filmmaker and screenwriter, lives and works in Berlin.
De l’autre côté (Chantal Akerman) B/F 2002, 103 min, original version with Engl. subtitles
The film about the Mexican-US American border begins on the Mexican side and describes the hopes and desperation of those hoping to immigrate to the USA. The locations that Chantal Ackermann shows in tranquil pans and tracks are charged with this.

A City of Sadness (Hou Hsiao-hsien) Taiwan 1989, 157 min, original version with German subtitles
The story of a Taiwanese family caught up in the whirl of events in the post-war era. The film begins in 1945 with the end of Japanese occupation and depicts the brief transitional period until 1949, when the country is oppressed again by the authoritarian politics of mainland China.

Touch of Evil (Orson Welles) USA 1958, 111 min, original version with German subtitles
A crime film, a late “film noir” work, which is also located at the Mexican-American border. Welles is less interested in the border as a concrete political site, but more as an exaggerated, moral no-man’s-land, where all certainties crumble into dust.

Loin (André Téchiné) F/E 2001, 120 min, original version with German subtitles
Young Serge travels back and forth between France, Spain and Morocco as a truck driver. In Tangier Serge, Sarah and Said cross paths. “Loin” unfolds a fabric of wishes and dreams, in which the private sphere and the concrete political conditions are mutually interwoven.

Border Incident (Anthony Mann) USA 1949, 94 min, original version
One of Anthony Mann’s early works. Two American undercover agents infiltrate a ring of human smugglers operating between the American-Mexican border.

Scarface (Brian De Palma) USA 1983, 170 min, German synchronized version
Al Pacino plays the Cuban immigrant Tony Montana, for whom there is nothing in the USA except misery. “The world is yours.” He takes this advertising slogan promising the “American way of life” and makes it his own with a vengeance.

Zeit der trunkenen Pferde (Bahman Ghobadi) Iran 2000, 79 min, original version with German subtitles
This feature film shot with amateur actors depicts with naturalistic force the rough existence of five orphans in the north of the Iranian part of Kurdistan. A life-saving operation for the eldest, handicapped orphan Madi is to be paid for with money earned by smuggling across the border. For this operation Madi has to achieve the impossible: to reach the other side of the border.

Allemagne, année 90 neuf zéro (Jean-Luc Godard) F 1991, 62 min, Ger./Fr. original version
A commissioned work for television on the theme of loneliness. Godard decided to make a film about the loneliness of a state. After the disappearance of the German-German border, the aged agent Lemmy Caution wanders through the former GDR territory and approaches the west. His path is strewn with traces of German history.