One of my top five undistributed documentaries of 2014 is finally hitting theaters in limited release today, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to give Evaporating Borders another look and properly review the film at length. It does deserve a new post, though, even if just one that reprints multiple capsules published on the site in the past. Both Daniel Walber and myself have written briefly about the doc, he (much more astutely) as one of the best films of last year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival and I as one the best of SXSW.
This essay film produced by Laura Poitras, written and directed by Iva Radivojevic, takes us on a tour of Cyprus and introduces us to a handful of subjects, all of them seeking asylum in the Mediterranean island nation, which sits near enough to the Middle East to be a place of refuge for political immigrants. Framed magnificently in its structure and its shots, it’s a doc that provides specific exotic appeal while also being quite familiar in its concentration on the orthodox Christian locals’ pushback against “becoming a Muslim country.”
Cyprus sits at the crossroads of three continents. Cleft in two by the persistent aftermath of a Turkish invasion, now 40-years old, the island is one of the main entry points into the European Union for asylum seekers. Immigrants now make up 25% of the population and their presence has dominated and radicalized the politics and culture of the Greek side of Cyprus. Filmmaker Iva Radivojevic has crafted a poetic essay on the subject, trying to express both the current crisis and the deeper soul of an island that has always been tossed about by the storms of history. She captures the enigmas of empty spaces and the terrible fire of fascist protests, the quiet torment of migrants stuck in refugee camps and the stunning diversity of Cyprus’s many drifting souls. The unlikeliest of images become potent metaphors for both this one cleft nation and the entire globalized world, from flocks of flamingoes to the darkness of the sea. Wise and incisive, Evaporating Borders is likely the most aesthetically beautiful film in the festival.
Go see the film at the Made in New York Media Center by IFP in Brooklyn, NY (now through June 25th), if you have the chance.