“You are an outsider”

Szenenfoto aus "Evaporating Boarders"

Die aus Serbien stammende Regisseurin Iva Radivojevic im Interview über ihren Dokumentarfilm Evaporating Boarders, europäische Flüchtlingspolitik und multiplie Identitäten.

von Makito

Der Film von Iva Radivojevic Evaporating Borders hatte auf dem International Filmfest Rotterdam (IFFR) Weltpremiere. Er wurde in das Programm „The State of Europe – EU-29“ eingeteilt, das sich mit aktuellen Themen in Europa bzw. in der Europäischen Union beschäftigt. Im Wahljahr versucht das IFFR Filme zu zeigen, die aktuelle Themen oder Konflikte in dem Staatenbund behandeln. Nach vielen Jahren in Jugoslawien und auf Zypern lebt die gebürtige Serbin Radivojevic nun in New York. In ihrem Film behandelt sie die Probleme von Immigranten und Flüchtlingen, die auf Zypern gestrandet sind. Auch die Diskriminierungen und Intoleranz der Bewohner gegenüber den ethnischen Gruppen sind Thema in ihrem ersten Dokumentarfilm. unique hat die junge Regisseurin zum Gespräch getroffen:

unique: How are you feeling now, after the first premiere of your film at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam?
Iva Radivojevic: Well, I was quite nervous at the premiere and because the postproduction of the film was only finished a week before the start of the IFFR, I couldn’t register the whole event properly!

How long have you been living in Yugoslavia before you moved to Cyprus and how long have you been in New York now?
I was 12 when we moved to Cyprus, that was in 1992 just as the war was breaking out, and now I’ve been living in New York for 15 years.

When did you decide to become a filmmaker? What was your motivation?
I started painting at nine years old and really wanted to do something with art and painting, so I studied Illustration and Computer Animation, working with 3D and so on. But that wasn’t quite what I wanted to do so I started to first take photos and then make short films. I travelled a lot, I was meeting people with interesting stories and that’s how it all began.

Your documentary is about the conflicts of immigrants on the Island Cyprus, the high numbers of refugees and how the society, the government etc. deals with the occurring problems. Were you and your family involved in these issues and also had difficulties when you arrived on Cyprus?
No, not all, because that was 22 years ago and back then it was a completely different time. The number of immigrants coming in was lower and most of them came from Eastern Europe; they were accepted because they had the same religion, similar culture, so the situation was different. However, the fact that you are a foreigner in a foreign country, by default your rights are different – you are an outsider.

How did you come to the idea to make the film in that essayistic way?
I immigrated to three countries by the age of eighteen.  So naturally there a kind of search that happens, a crafting of identity, who am I and where do I belong and so on. The film is about discrimination, tolerance, racism but it’s also about trying to find a place to fit, where to belong, trying to find yourself.  For an artist, there is always something that wants to come out. Usually, it has something to do with one’s experience. So, basically that’s how it happens. The film happens.

You only made shorts before Evaporating Borders. Why did you decide to do a feature length film now?
The story is quite complicated and is not something that can be compressed into a short film, there are many aspects to be considered. Even now not all things that need clarification are in the film, because there is only so much you can fit into one film and still make it relevant and interesting.  Also, having done a number of short films, I wanted a challenge, to attempt to tell stories in a different way. But most of my work shares similar topics of migration, immigrants, identity and displacement.

Many of the fascists of the ELAM [National Popular Front, a nationalist movement founded 2008 in Cyprus, also known for their relation to the Greek far-right political party “Golden Dawn”, editor’s note] didn’t bother it that you filmed them, also showing their faces. Did you have difficulties trying to get their permission?
We had approached them ahead of time – through a friend who had a connection – and informed them that a journalist from Serbia wanted to document their achievements and goals. They were cautious and took measures to check if I was indeed Serbian – I passed so that’s how it happened.

Which part of the film has a deep personal relation to you?
Obviously the whole film, but if I have to pick one point or let’s say one issue of the film then it’s definitely the part about self-reflection. I think that is the hardest for all of us, to look at ourselves and constantly question our thoughts, actions and processes. Self reflection is the key.

Where do you see the biggest problems of the EU, dealing with the high numbers of immigrants and refugees?
There are multiple problems. There is a selection hierarchy of who is allowed to get in and who is not. There is bureaucratic tape around the process of selection and waiting time. The reception centers in many cases are absolutely horrendous. There are benefits which are given to migrants before they are given the right to integrate and join the workforce. Another problem is the media, which also discriminates. In Cyprus for example, the media is mostly right winged: The migrant has become a criminal.

It seems that you know your position as a global citizen with such a diverse biography. Do you think that the citizens within the EU should try to break out of their national borders, to think not only as a European but also as a global citizen?
That is exactly what should be done. Everything is changing very fast, if we look at technology for example. We learn to easily adapt to that but we have not yet adapted to the fact that we live in a pluriversal, multicultural world. The outbreaks of conflicts all around the world show that there will always be migration. The image of the fixed identities is not an idea which survives in this world anymore. There are many people like me, with multiple identities, mixed background, history and family. We need to reexamine these traditionally constructed identities, which are full of fear, anxiety and insecurity which see the “Other” as something dangerous, something that will take over their well organized lives. And that’s where we should break out of our self.

How did the audience and critics react to Evaporating Borders so far?
It’s very interesting, the US and European audience have had completely different reactions. In the US the audience is very animated and expressive, the Dutch audience is more reserved and collected… It’s interesting to note the cultural differences. But in general, the response has been great and the discussions after the screenings have been engaging and thought provoking. I hope it continues like that and that the film can be broadcasted in Europe and generate more conversation.

Thank you very much, Iva!

For more information about Iva Radivojevic, visit her web-page: ivarad.com


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