Cinema International Presents "On This Side of the World" This Week
Murray State's Cinema International presents the 2020 Spanish film On This Side of the World, directed by David Trueba, this week. Tracy Ross speaks to MSU associate professor of Spanish Ben Stone about the upcoming screenings.
From the MSU Cinema International website:
"Alberto, a dull and indolent engineer, is sent to the city of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, where he must renovate the system of fences that separates two universes, Africa and Europe: those who want to enter and those who prevent them from doing so.
He will come face to face with the complexity of immigration. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Trueba is a journalist, a writer, a humanist. He observes the world with compassion without losing his narrative pulse. Trueba gives a global look at the insurmountable walls erected by mankind and begs the question: where we enter the world is a lottery, our privilege depends on geography... But what if we were born on the other side?"
While this film is not explicitly a documentary, Post says it has that type of feel. "It's sort of a guerilla filmmaking style where he goes in with a small crew, captures things, gets out. Elements of the film's visuals and structure are designed to give the viewer a sense of the city of Melilla." A knowledge of Melilla's history is helpful in watching the film but not necessary, Post explains.
"The film is constructed around conversations between a woman who's part of the National Guard who works with immigrants in Melilla and an engineer from Madrid who's coming there to work on an engineering project. Those conversations help give you a lot of the context to understand its present. It helps us understand the fluidities between Europe and Africa that seem so clear to us now, but in historical terms, they really aren't."
Post explains that Melilla is one of two Spanish enclaves on the North African coast. It is technically Spanish soil. So, migrants who set foot in Melilla can apply for refugee status through the European Union. The film highlights the difficulties of this geographical anomaly and the struggle between those trying to get into Melilla and those trying to keep others out.
"The film is not quite so didactic as to say he's claiming a position," Post adds. Rather, the director is "triangulating between three different voices. This very jaded National Guard person has very negative beliefs about African migrants; the engineer, who the director describes as a typical Spaniard, a Jimmy Stewart figure. This third figure, who's a former engineer who used to be working on this project and then quit for ethical reasons."
"So, it's really kind of exploring those three voices and asking the audience to think about where they stand and what they would do if faced with one ethical decision like, should you help your government construct a wall on your southern border/ What would you do if you were actually faced with an immigrant who needed your help in order to enter the country?"
MSU Cinema International presents On This Side of the World on Thursday, April 7th, in the Barkley Room, and Saturday, April 9th, in the Curris Center Theater. Both screenings are on the third floor of the Curris Center and begin at 7:30 pm. Screenings are open to the public, with discussions to follow.
For more information on MSU Cinema International and the rest of its Spring 2022 schedule, visit its website.