The space of the line: Representing the past of the border area in a documentary film
I will originate from considerations and experiences stemming from the creation of documentary films, which I co-authored with Nadja Velušček, my mother and workmate. Jointly we recorded an extensive collection of interviews about memories relating to the turning points of the 20th century, which divided the Goriška region. Exploring the past of Goriška means exploring the effects of the border, that is, observing the traces left by the imaginary line in real life. Apart from the area of conflict, the border has always been a place of contact. While empires, social systems, and states disintegrated, ties connecting families, neighborhoods, and friendships were preserved. When researching memory, we have always been interested in what is common to this divided space and, above all, how to tell about the divided past in a way that connects.
The movie “Niso letele ptice, 1999” (“Birds Didn’t Fly, 1999”) deals with the migration of refugees during World War I, who faced destroyed homes upon return. The movie “Moja meja, 2002” (“My Border, 2002”) follows the memories of our family and many others whose lives were affected by the border in 1947. “Mesto na travniku, 2004” (“The City on a Meadow, 2004”) tells the story about the construction of Nova Gorica, founded due to the new border and developed in counterpoint with the older town of Gorica. “Sešivalnica spomina, 2006” (“Mending of Memories, 2006”) talks about a special cruelty by the Veneto border, which drove people to embody “hostile” identities. “Vžgano v spominih, 2017” (“Burned in Memories, 2017”) explores memories related to arsons during the Nazi occupation at the border area of today’s Slovenia, Italy and Croatia. I will conclude with a short documentary project “Spovednica tihotapcev, 2010” (“A Confessional of Smugglers, 2010”) based on cross-border actions to collect memory of the border-crossing between Nova Gorica and Gorica on the last evening before the closure, 21 December 2007.
The border area is a great laboratory for checking perceptions of the world. Namely, the Eastern border is also the Western one. Different notions of the world coexist by the border without much discomfort, so it is all the more important where we place the camera, because by changing the point of view, we can completely change the content. In the border area, a film creating process is therefore a special dramaturgical and aesthetic challenge, as well as a great responsibility that we share with other researchers of the past. We are faced with the challenge of how to maintain peace and at the same time protect the richness of differences. Dangerous exclusionary dynamics will not disappear with vanishing the border, but when it contains enough common space.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anja Medved (1969, Nova Gorica, Slovenia) is an artist and documentary film director. She graduated in theatre and radio directing at Ljubljana Academy of Theatre and Film (AGRFT). She is the author and co-author of extensive documentary opus investigating relations between personal and collective memory on a disputed border area between Slovenia and Italy. She has developed a specific artistic approach by organizing transborder memory collecting actions in an abandoned border check point while rearticulating it’s meaning into a shared space and forming a joint archive of memories. For many years she collaborated in a programming board of the Kinoatelje Association where she created most of her films. Her works were presented at various film festivals and art exhibitions. She is co-founder and producer of film production and archive of memory Zavod KINOkašča / CINEMattic. She lives and works in Nova Gorica.