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Animals in the Borderlands

On the Franco-Belgian border the fox population explodes, in Korea a soldier recalls the fatal beauty of the de-militarised zone between North and South, and in the forests between Germany and Czech Republic the red deer refuse to cross the invisible divide. This special programme brings together work from 5 artists who ask questions about the relationships between humans and other species, about the impact of human borders on animal behaviour, and about the myths the human animal tells itself. Curated by Jamie Allan.

Films presented in this screening:

Mike Hoolboom: 3 Dreams of Horses (2018, 6 mins)
Three scenes featuring horses, remembering Jacinto. The first is a daytime forest haunting that winds up at a carousel; the second a rainy street in Portugal; the finale a night-time vigil of fire and water.

Hayoun Kwon: 489 Years (2016, 11 mins)
The film 489 Years enters the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea and takes its audience into a forest of both life and death. Following the authentic memories of a border guard, the film uses fantastical images to open the viewer’s eyes to a true but hidden reality of our world. We hear more than we see of both the cruelty and the beauty of this deadly fairytale forest, and yet the film gives us an almost physical sense of the existential powerlessness and fear felt in this completely mined area. The perfection in the depiction of this space is even heightened by a vision of the destruction of the border zone. If arms destroy arms and not people, the fear may dissolve in hope. A film of great depth, brilliant beauty and social relevance. For today and even more so for tomorrow.

Éléonore Saintagnan & Grégoire Motte: Les Bêtes Sauvages/ Wild Beasts (2015, 36 mins)
On the border between France and Belgium, the population of foxes increases exponentially. In Brussels, rose-ringed parakeets colonise the parks of the city. In Colombia, hippopotamuses imported from Africa thrive in their new environment. Despite adapting well to their new conditions, these animals, which have been displaced from their original contexts by humans, are establishing ambivalent relations with the ecosystems they inhabit.

Jamie Allan: The Iron Serpent (2018, 8 mins)
The Iron Serpent is part documentary and part fable. For 25 years a deadly electric fence stretched along the Soviet border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia. The fence separated families and carved an impassable barrier through the forests of the borderlands. The fence was torn down in 1989, but even today the trauma of this time lingers in the forest. The film recounts the myth of the fence through the eyes of a young red deer. He relates how the iron serpent arrived and settled in the valley, how it tormented his ancestors, and how the fear remains to this day.