Immigration Crisis Beyond The Borders

in 7th Beyond Borders International Documentary Festival, Castellorizo

by Janet Baris

Castellorizo is some kind of magical island to see movies about beyond borders. International Documentary Film Festival on Castellorizo Beyond Borders which was held for the 7th time on this island focuses on open spaces to discuss frontiers. As a FIPRESCI jury, we have seen medium-length and long documentaries from Armenia, Greece, Czech, Denmark, Canada, and Israel as well. These documentaries have some kind of issues about politics, economics, and also immigration crisis all around the world.

The FIPRESCI award went to Village of Women (2019) directed by Tamara Stepanyan. The official jury had given three awards, one of which is the best Greek Documentary. This award went to The Other Half (2022) by Giorgos Moutafis, The Other Half is one of the movies where you can watch the harsh reality of the immigration crisis between Turkey and Greece. George Muotafis, who is also a photographer, shot immigrants and showed their struggle. The director makes his film debut with an empathetic representation of refugees and migrants crossing European borders. He is also the protagonist of the movie as a narrator. He talks about what he saw beyond the borders. 

Moutafis uses his footage to tell the truth as he sees it. Those frontiers have long been a main professional haunt for Moutafis, an unassuming but engaging person who serves as his own producer and cinematographer. The film shows a reality which is very tough. This is a movie that is really hard to watch also contributing to that is the fact that interviews are real and show obviously what is going on in a most realistic way. 

What Moutafis did can be considered an agitation. But it’s more than that .In the past five years, the issue that is shown in the film is a very fragile one, especially on the borders of Turkey and Greece. The story of these people who had to wait for days without food or water at the borders or has to take boats without life safety is truly shocking. What Moutafis does is very important because he leaves -to our opinion- a mark on history. 

It is difficult to work in this field, to record the facts, and it is difficult to witness this process not feeling anything. Moutafis, as a photojournalist, witnessing deaths and having to carry  by himself dead bodies Sometimes can’t hold his tears while telling what he saw. He chooses to tell the truth as a duty to history.

Culture is a key to understanding each other and cinema is the strongest way to do it. Sometimes it’s hard to make a bridge and take attention to what happening within the borders. Most people prefer to ignore the immigrants and how are they suffering at the borders. Moutafis takes this responsibility and shows this struggle to the audience. 

The 7th International Documentary Film Festival in Castellorizo Beyond Borders is not just a film festival, it also brings cultures together and makes a bridge to understand each other. It’s also an opportunity to discuss economic and political issues with young filmmakers. The festival is creating space for young filmmakers and laying the groundwork for culturally discussing sensitive issues. The fact that the festival takes place on one of the islands closest to Turkey is also meaningful.


Janet Baris
Edited by Ron Fogel