The Border Crossing: the Cinematic Representation of Memory in the Autobiographical Documentary

Book chapter


Daniels, J. 2012. The Border Crossing: the Cinematic Representation of Memory in the Autobiographical Documentary. in: Esin, Cigdem, Hawkins, Matthew, Salami, Iwa, Tamboukou, Maria, Townley, Lynn and Wells, Marianne (ed.) Crossing Conceptual Boundaries IV London University of East London, School of Law and Social Sciences. pp. 8-16
AuthorsDaniels, J.
EditorsEsin, Cigdem, Hawkins, Matthew, Salami, Iwa, Tamboukou, Maria, Townley, Lynn and Wells, Marianne
Abstract

In this paper I explore the cinematic representation of memory, trauma and identity in the
autobiographical documentary, with reference to my film The Border Crossing. I utilise and locate my own
experience inside questions about the use of cinematic language in the representation of memory, trauma,
and identity. Alisa Lebow (2008) asks: “do we call up our cultural ghosts, or do they call on us? Is not the
latter likely… where we are interpolated into the body of (cultural) knowledge we think of as our
(contested) self?” The Border Crossing is set in the Basque country where a young woman reconstructs my
self of 40 years ago. She wanders through streets on both sides of the Spanish/French border towards a
violent fate, while an unnamed man drives in the rain at night. Interweaved are narratives of Aitziber, a
Basque nationalist, tortured by the Spanish Guardia Civil, and Maria, a photographer, whose niece died in
a car she was driving, and whose narratives of the present and past, include references to history. My offscreen
voice reflects on the past and present and difficulties encountered in making this film and the
young woman’s off-screen voice interacts with mine, as she recounts the story of the journey. This creates
a discourse around the cinematic representation of subjectivities towards a metaphorical representation of
past and present. It allows the camera and microphone to record an impressionistic landscape of sound
and image to build a mosaic of exterior space that merges with an imagined space of the past to occupy
the fertile space between documentary and fiction.

Keywordsautobiography; reflexivity; trauma; memory; experimental documentary; Basque
Book titleCrossing Conceptual Boundaries IV
Page range8-16
Year2012
PublisherUniversity of East London, School of Law and Social Sciences
Publication dates
Print2012
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Sep 2013
Place of publicationLondon
Web address (URL)http://www.uel.ac.uk/lss/research/yearbook/
Copyright holderThe author
Publisher's version
License
CC BY-ND
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