In the United States, poor people are, for the most part, Mexican. For years, they crossed through San Diego, but the US Immigration Services has managed to stop the flood of illegal immigrants in this part of California and divert it to the deserts and mountains of Arizona where they thought the difficulties, dangers, cold and heat would stop them. But you can’t stop someone who’s hungry. And on the other side, the fear of invaders leads to violent thoughts.
“De l'autre côté”("From the Other Side") is part of a diptych with “Sud” (“South”), another film presented in the Filmmaker in Focus category, and also part of a triptych with “D'Est” (“From the East”) – illustrating the spatial continuities and discontinuities, the present and the long march of history. Chantal Akerman addresses both the imaginary and the materiality of the border between Mexico and the US, the Hollywood dreams that glitter from the other side and the reality, trivial at best and all too often terrible, deadly and disgusting. The director often focuses on the landscapes, and sometimes on the bodies and words, organising an intense circulation between them – history tragically repeating itself, not with a literal equivalence, but in the form of an inevitable and chilling echo. This superb political tirade is also depressingly topical, confirming (if confirmation were needed) that violence is the USA’s greatest curse.
Programmer, teacher and critic
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