Here you find an overview of recent activities of the project. Click on the image for more information.
21 November, 2023
Agents of Concern opens. Last week, the exhibition at PXL Mad opened, featuring our Reel Borders shorts! Find out more here.
17 November, 2023
AAA/CASCA. Silvia Almenara presented the paper “Mediating Emotions in Migration Research” at the AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada. More information here.
02 November, 2023
Reel Borders at Agents of Concern. Featuring a diverse set of international artists and scholars, the exhibition explores how images spark engegament, empathy, and action. Find out more here.
25 October, 2023
Reel Borders Shorts at Clones. Proud to announce that our Reelborders shorts created during the will be screened at Clones Film Festival on Sat 28 Oct @ 12 pm. Find out more here.
Academic article. Irene Gutiérrez has contributed an article to the journal Migration Studies. Drawing on three months of ethnographic and participatory filmmaking research on the Moroccan-Spanish border, she focuses on the need for a reflexive approach to this methodology as a site for decolonial thinking when applied to migration and border studies. Read more here.
12 October, 2023
Presentation at European Parliament. The team presented short films and participated in a discussion on labour, gender and mobility alongside members of the parliament and policy experts. More information here.
12 October, 2023
26 September, 2023
Conference participation. Reel Borders was represented at the kick-off conference of the new SOLROUTES project. More information here.
22 September, 2023
Film screening. The Irish Film Institute has included the four Reel Borders shorts created by nine filmmakers during the participatory filmmaking workshop set at the Nerve Centre in Derry in the Culture Night 2023 programme. More information here.
21 September, 2023
Film screening. The Nerve Centre has programmed a special film screening with seven Reel Borders shorts from the participatory filmmaking workshops in Ireland and Ceuta. More information here.
11 September, 2023
ICRMC. Silvia Almenara and Irene Gutiérrez presented the paper “Using Audiovisual Methods in Borderlands: Empirical, ethical and methodological dilemmas” at the International Creative Research Methods Conference. More information here.
24 August, 2023
Film screening. Reel Borders was invited to present a special pre-conference screening at the EFACIS conference at Queen’s University Belfast. More information here.
16 August, 2023
Book chapter. Lennart Soberon and Kevin Smets contributed a chapter to the new book “Creating Europe from the margins”, focusing on border securitization in popular media like reality TV. Read more here.
5 July, 2023
IMISCOE annual conference. How Participatory Filmmaking interacts with existing power relations and roles? Irene Gutiérrez presented the paper 'Self-representational Participatory Filmmaking in Ceuta: Reflexivity as a Plea for Border Women Encounters' at the IMISCOE annual conference panel on methods, methodologies and reflexivity. To read more, click here.
26 June, 2023
24 June, 2023
Euronews. Silvia Almenara-Niebla participated in the TV programme “Bruselas, ¿te quiero? to debate on the EU migration and asylum pact. More info here.
23 June, 2023
Migration and Societal Change. Silvia Almenara-Niebla participated in the panel Digital theories and methodologies from the South(s) at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. More info here.
3 May, 2023
Difference Day. Our team members Irene Gutiérrez and Kevin Smets discussed with journalist and filmmaker Sara Creta about the importance of citizens’ voices to contest European bordering practices. You can read the full new here.
25 April, 2023
Migration Podcast. Kevin Smets was interviewed for the podcast series of IMISCOE, the International Migration Research Network. You can listen to the podcast here.
13 March, 2023
Belgian-Irish Film Festival. The Reel Borders team is proud to have contributed to the next edition of Scéal Eile: The Belgian-Irish Film Festival with the four films created during our participatory filmmaking workshop at the Nerve Centre in Derry. More info here.
6 March, 2023
11 February, 2023
Turkey-Syria earthquake. The Reel Borders team expresses its solidarity with the Turkish-Syrian region hit by the earthquake of 6 February. We share a letter of our project partner from Adana. Read more here.
13 January, 2023
BIRMM Research Day. Irene Gutiérrez participated in the panel on “Migration and its experiences” at BIRMM, VUB. More info here.
2 December, 2022
Guest Lecture. Silvia Almenara-Niebla participated as guest-lecture in a seminar for Anthropology undergraduate students at the University of Granada, Spain. More info here.
25 November, 2022
“Triang Times” rough cut screening. Emer, Manus and Michael, three of the filmmakers of the Reel Borders workshop at Nerve Centre, organized a screening of their short film for a local audience at the Allingham Festival of Ballyshannon. More information here.
22 November, 2022
The Marrakech International Film Festival. Lennart Soberon attended the MIFF as part of his fieldwork in Morrocco. More info here.
21 November, 2022
Reel Borders on Spanish national TV. The voice of some of the participants of the filmmaking workshop in Ceuta was raised on RTVE, where they talked about their short films as a site for visualizing their unstable situation, lasting for decades despite living and working in Ceuta. More info here.
17 November, 2022
Migratlantes 2022 II Encuentro de Migraciones Atlánticas. Silvia Almenara-Niebla participated as guest-speaker in the conference hosted by the Canary Islands’ Government (Spain). More info here.
08 November, 2022
Reel Borders covered by RTVCE. The launch of the participatory filmmaking workshop in Ceuta was covered by the public TV channel RTVCE. More info here.
03 November, 2022
Participatory filmmaking workshop and cineforum in Ceuta. Irene Gutiérrez and Silvia Almenara-Niebla started the collaboration with Association Digmun, where 12 border women are reflecting on their experiences while making short documentary films and discussing films about this border during 3 months. More info here.
27 October, 2022
Book panel at Cinematek. Kevin Smets discussed his book at the Royal Belgian Film Archive together with Dorothée van den Berghe and Sahim Omar Kalifa. More info here.
21 October, 2022
9th ECREA Conference. Kevin Smets and Silvia Almenara-Niebla participated in the conference hosted by Aarhus University. More info here.
13 October, 2022
Book launch at Film Fest Gent. Kevin Smets launched his book at a ‘Talkie’ during Film Fest Gent. More info here.
21 September, 2022
CESSMIR Conference. Lennart Soberon participated in the conference hosted by Ghent University. More info here.
16 August, 2022
International Migration. Silvia Almenara-Niebla has published a book review of Visual Methodology in Migration Studies. More info here.
1 August, 2022
L’Atalante Revista de Estudios Cinematográficos published “Archives-In-The-Making, Vulnerable Communities and Migration”. The Reel Borders team participates in a discussion as part of the (Dis)Agreements section of the journal. More info here.
5 July, 2022
Antwerp Summer University “Europe: Diversity and Migration”. Irene Gutiérrez gave a guest lecture about migrants self-representation in Europe. More info here.
5 July, 2022
HoMER Network. Silvia Almenara-Niebla and Kevin Smets were part of the conference hosted by Sapienza University of Rome. More info here.
30 June, 2022
IMISCOE annual conference 2022. Irene Gutiérrez presented the paper “Methodological and ethical challenges in doing Participatory Filmmaking among migrants”. More info here.
16 June, 2022
Irish Border Narratives. Lennart Soberon was part of the conference organized by University of Wuppertal. More info here.
2 June, 2022
Film, Migration & the Archive. Irene Gutiérrez and Kevin Smets were part of the conference organized by the ECREA Film Studies section. More info here.
30 May, 2022
International Communication Association. Lennart Soberon and Kevin Smets presented a paper at the annual ICA conference. The paper was one of the four finalists for the Top Paper Award. More info here.
6 May, 2022
Irish Screen Studies Seminar. Lennart Soberon participated with a presentation on a thematic analysis of the Irish Border on Screen. More info here.
5 May, 2022
Methodology workshop. Kevin Smets led a workshop on visual and participatory research methods in migration research. More info here.
April 9- June 11, 2022
Participatory Filmmaking. For nine weeks our team member Irene Gutiérrez will be in Derry doing a participatory filmmaking workshop with people living in the area thanks to the collaboration of Nerve Centre, the Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Archive and the Irish Film Archive. More info and registrations here.
November 29- March 28, 2021-2022
Reel Borders Workshops. To finalise our first project year we have set up three workshops on theoretical, methodological and ethical aspects of the different sub-studies of Reel Borders. During these workshops key academic experts set around the table with the project team to reflect on these aspects and to prepare the forthcoming empirical work. More info here.
February 11, 2022
Etmaal Conference. On 11 February our team presented papers on "Borderscaping through audiovisual participatory methods" as well as on "Borderveillant spectatorship" at Etmaal Conference 2022, the conference bringing together Dutch and Belgian communication scholars across all fields.
January 26, 2022
Border talk. On 26 January our member team Irene Gutiérrez talked about the link between borders and cinema at the online event "Borders - Borders and Border Regions in Contemporary Art Production and Art Theory" at the Technical University of Darmstadt.
November 1-10, 2021
Fieldwork. For the past 10 days the reel Borders team was in Ireland and Northern Ireland doing archival research, interviews, and meetings with project partners… and enjoying the Belfast Film Festival.
October 12, 2021
Mindblowers. Reel Borders researcher and filmmaker Irene Gutiérrez took part in the recent edition of Mindblowers, an event organized by KVS (Royal Flemish Theatre) and VUB.
October 7, 2021
Diaspora, Migration and Media. Reel Borders welcomes the election of the project's postdoctoral researcher, Silvia Almenara-Niebla, as vice-chair of ECREA's Diaspora, Migration and the Media section.
July 6, 2021
Advisory board. Reel Borders presents its advisory committee that will guide the team's researchers in areas such as border studies, film and migration, as well as the project's case studies.
June 17, 2021
Workshop. Irene Gutiérrez, PhD candidate on Reel Borders’ project, has participated in the 18th NECS Graduate Workshop with her paper on methodological and ethical challenges in the research of the video footage recorded by undocumented African migrants at the Moroccan-Spanish border.
May 17, 2021
Guest lecture. Migration: a media and cultural studies perspective. Part of the Honors Program ‘The societal challenge of migration’ at Tilburg University.
April 29, 2021
Lecture. Migration and visual cultures: methodological reflections and strategies as part of the NECS (Network for Cinema and Media Studies) lecture series on media and migration.
April 29, 2021
Guest lecture. Europe and its borders: Between national sovereignty and (im)mobility policies. The cases of Ceuta and Melilla. For the master course ‘Media, Culture & Globalization Theories’ at Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
April 21, 2021
Screening + Presentation. Screening of Bab Sebta (2019) by Randa Maroufi and presentation of the project Reel Borders at the Migrant Belongings Conference (Utrecht University).
Since its origins, PF has been combined with other qualitative methods for long-term research projects, primarily working with marginalized communities for pedagogical, research and advocacy purposes. However, PF is not a magic bullet. The empirical research carried out by Irene through three PF workshops set on the Irish border, the Ceuta exclave at the Moroccan-Spanish border, and the Turkish city of Adana (forthcoming) is focused on exploring its ethical and methodological challenges to develop this methodology in border and migration research.
The Irish border
The Moroccan-Spanish border
These short essay films are the result of a three-month participatory filmmaking workshop with 13 - out of a total of about 800 - Moroccan cross-border women who are living and working irregularly in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave bordering Morocco. They are a personal testimony to the difficulties these women experience day after day in regularising their situation after years, and even decades, of low-paid labour and a poignant lack of legal rights, access to public health care or education. The workshop was hosted by the local NGO Digmun, the Association for the Dignity of Women and Children of Ceuta, which offers language literacy and legal support. All 26 films will be compiled into the forthcoming webdoc “ABCeuta: the Alphabet of the Border”.
Reel Borders is a 5-year research project 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.
Reel Borders approaches this topic 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 are a fruitful starting point to explore these questions.
Reel Borders concentrates on 3 borderlands and regions: the Irish 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 participatory filmmaking.
Below you find further information about the case studies in each map. More information about methodology will be added as the project progresses.
Reel Borders received funding from the European Research Council, Starting Grant (#948278, 2021-2026) and is based at the Communication Department of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Kevin Smets is associate professor at the Department of Communication Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). He is the coordinator and principal investigator of Reel Borders. More info.
Irene GutiérrezPhD researcher
Irene Gutierrez is a PhD fellow and award-winning documentary filmmaker from Ceuta. In the Reel Borders project, she will focus on vernacular border cinema. More info.
Yazan BadranPostdoctoral researcher
Yazan Badran holds a PhD in media and communication studies. He contributed to data collection and analysis in the Reel Borders project. More info.
Silvia Almenara NieblaPostdoctoral researcher
Silvia Almenara Niebla holds a PhD in gender and migration studies. In the Reel Borders project, she will concentrate on everyday cinematic experiences of borderlanders, as well as social and political dynamics of borders. More info.
Lennart SoberonPostdoctoral researcher
Lennart Soberon holds a PhD in film studies. In the Reel Borders project, he will concentrate on film analysis and data, as well as institutional and audience dynamics. More info.
Hazar Deniz Eker
Hazar Deniz Eker will focus on how visual media reflect and interact with socio-cultural bordering practises and political dynamics in the Turkish-Syrian border region. More info.
Christel Vaeremans (VUB Department of Communication Studies)
Research internsHannah Wilmots
Hazar Deniz Eker
University of Granada (Ceuta and Melilla campus): Antonia Olmos Alcaraz
Queen’s University Belfast: Katy Hayward
Çukurova University Adana: İlke Şanlıer, Aydın Çam, Kıvanç Türkgeldi, Aslı Ilgıt & Özge Nilay Erbalaban Gürbüz