Reel Borders studies how borders are imagined through film

Reel Borders relies on Participatory Filmmaking as one of its methodologies, led by Irene Gutiérrez. Participatory Filmmaking (PF) or Participatory Video (PV) belongs to the broader classification of participatory visual arts methods. Founded in pioneer experiences of citizen engagement through cinema, such as the Film-Eye movement in the 1920s or the Fogo Process in the 1960s, it is a set of methods involving a group or community in shaping and creating their own films.

Our empirical research draws on three PF workshops set on the Irish border, the Ceuta exclave at the Moroccan-Spanish border, and the Turkish city of Adana. It is focused on exploring the ethical and methodological challenges of PF to develop this methodology in border and migration research.

The Irish border

What is the Irish border to its inhabitants? A checkpoint? A marker of identity? A memory? In cooperation with the Nerve Centre in Derry, we have commissioned a three-month participatory filmmaking workshop (April-June 2022) in which nine border-dwellers from Donegal and Derry explore their personal stories. Some have used amateur archival collections filmed in these areas provided by the Irish Film Institute Archive and the Northern Ireland Screen's Digital Film Archive. From essayistic forms to documentary film portraits and cinema verité, their four films seek to explore these questions.

To know more about the filmmakers: here.

The Moroccan-Spanish border

Twenty-six short essay films result from a three-month participatory filmmaking workshop in Ceuta (October-December 2022) with 13 Moroccan cross-border women. They work irregularly in the domestic service and represent 800 women in the same situation. Their films address personal testimonies to the difficulties they experience 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 films are compiled into the webdoc “ABCeuta: the Alphabet of the Border”. 

To visit the webdoc and watch the films: here.

The Turkish-Syrian border

The one-month workshop in Adana was hosted by the cultural association Özgür Sinematek and involved 25 Turkish students from the Faculty of Media and Communication at Çukurova University. It aimed to promote dialogue between Turkish and Syrian students on campus and Syrian displaced people living in Adana since 2014, usually separated due to existing language barriers. The workshop sessions highlighted the economic and cultural challenges of integrating Syrian communities in Turkey due to everyday bordering and racism. The four resulting films, three short documentaries and one fiction, capture these experiences, as well as the consequences of the Earthquake of 6 February 2023 and the loss of memories for displaced Syrian families due to the war. The shorts will be finished in 2024. Stay tunned! 

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Funded by the European Research Council.
Starting Grant #948278

The Reel Borders logo is designed by Joris Bochman
The Reel Borders website was built by Irene Gutiérrez and Silvia Almenara-Niebla