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From the other side

At once lyrical and politically provocative, this study of illegal Mexican immigration continues Belgian director Chantal Akerman’s fascination with socially-divisive subjects in the United States.
It’s set both in the interzone of Agua Prieta, where people from all over Mexico wait in limbo before crossing the border, and neighbouring Douglas, Arizona – where ranchers cheerfully take the law into their own hands, turning shotguns on Mexican trespassers. Clandestine crossings through more dangerous desert and mountain areas have multiplied in recent years, since security was dramatically bolstered at
hitherto safe points (San Diego, El Paso) – with a corresponding increase in casualities.Today, many US
citizens living along the border regard the issue of illegal immigration as nothing less than a slow invasion, a daily war conducted against an enemy of seemingly infinite numbers, if not resources.
The glacial pace of Akerman’s filmmaking lends itself well to this subject, effectively communicating a sense of suspended existence on the US-Mexico border. Alternating extended static shots with lengthy tracking sequences, and interview sequences with impressionistic sequences of extraordinary beauty.
The film gradually sheds the particularity of its subject-matter to become something altogether more singular and haunting, a superb example of the cinematic essay.
(2002. France. Colour. Beta. 99 mins)
Directed by: Chantal Akerman

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