Stéphanie Barbey, Luc Peter, CH 2014, 74’
Director: Stéphanie Barbey, Luc Peter
Cinematography: Peter Mettler, Luc Peter
Editing: Florent Mangeot, Peter Mettler, Vincent Pluss
Music: Franz Treichler
Sound: Etienne Curchod, Jürg Lempen
Producer: Aline Schmid
Production: Intermezzo Films Sa, info@intermezzofilms.ch
World Sales: Deckert Distribution, info@deckert-distribution.com
Swiss Distributor: Xenix film, distribution@xenixfilm.ch
14.08.14, 11.00 – Cinema Teatro Kursaal
15.08.14, 18.30 – L'Altra Sala

en / it / de / fr

«Broken Land is a philosophical journey that questions people’s obstinacy to build their borders. In order to fully understand those who live on the desirable side we chose never to cross the border and stay in the United States. Our goal has always been to explore the real and imaginary effects of this protection that is gradually turning into an imprisonment.» (Luc Peter and Stéphanie Barbey)

Luc Peter Born in Lausanne (CH) in 1963. Studies in Filmmaking at the Lausanne Art School (ECAL). Selected documentaries: Daniel, Christophe et les autres (1995), La ribot distinguida (2004), Les années Schwarzenbach (2010, with Katharine Dominice). Luc Peter is also co-founder and producer at Intermezzo Films in Geneva.

Stéphanie Barbey Born in Geneva, 1972. Studies in International Relations at Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva (IUHEI) and at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE), then studies in filmmaking at Ateliers Varan in Paris. Feature documentary: Magic Radio (2007, with Luc Peter). Selected TV documentaries: «Passe moi les jumelles», »Science Suisse». Associate at Intermezzo Films in Geneva since 2006.

Can a fence protect you from evil? Can it preserve a perfect world? Or does the isolation of paradise transform it into a prison? These are the questions that the Francophone Swiss filmmakers Luc Peter and Stéphanie Barbey imply in their film Broken Land. They met with several inhabitants of the US state of Arizona who tell of their life on the border with Mexico. One couple has installed dozens of surveillance cameras and always sleeps with weapons within reach. The new border fence, which was erected by the US from 2006 to 2010, is not enough for them. They have built an additional fence around their own home. The man speaks eloquently to the camera – he does not appear to be an uneducated right wing extremist, even as he explains how he can recognise the refugees’ origin by their scent.

Another couple carries water canisters into the desert on which they write «Buena suerte» («Good luck»). A cowboy reminisces about how he once used to have a beer after work with his Mexican colleagues, no matter on which side of the border. Civil militia units explain how they make use of their experience from the Vietnam War.

The border is never crossed, and the perspective thus remains US-American. We only see refugees or smugglers on surveillance videos – ghosts captured by infrared cameras. The film shows us: It’s not the promised «land of the free» that awaits them on this side of the fence. Rather, the US-Americans here live in paranoia or justified fear – be it fear of drug gangs, be it fear of surveillance by their own country. The atmosphere created by sound and image is claustrophobic. A part of the camera work was done by the Swiss-Canadian Peter Mettler who has made visual masterworks such as the essay film Picture of Light. He captures the full moon at dusk, or a circling bird of prey, which – as we are later informed – grows particularly fat here in the border region because it feeds on perishing refugees. The sublime images portray a nature that looks the same on both sides of the fence. But the camera zooms in to uncover halfburied socks, a rucksack and shoes. What has happened to the person they belonged to?

The soundtrack substantially contributes to the palpable anxiety. With Franz Treichler, mastermind of the Fribourg-based industrial band The Young Gods, a further great artist collaborated on Broken Land. His minimalist electro-sound – at times nothing more than a crackle – has a scary effect. Together the images, that appear partly surreal, and the reduced electronic soundscape create a non-place, in which everything worth living for is destroyed.

Flavia Giorgetta