“THE WORLD NEEDED A STORY ABOUT RECONNECTING”
By Karishma D’Mello
David David’s debut film The Border (2020) is set to screen today, as part of the World Panorama section of films at the International Film Festival of India, 2021. The film follows the journey of an indigenous woman from the Wayuu community in Colombia, subtly addressing the various socio-political issues brought about by crises along the Colombia-Venezuela border.
“This is my first film and we made it with almost no budget. We had no electric power on the main location, and there were around fifteen of us on the set. I just wanted to make something about the environment in Colombia, and so I did,” says the thirty-four year old Colombian filmmaker. “It felt like Guerrilla cinema. You go up with a camera and you try to tell a story without a budget and without many resources.”
David moved to Spain for a year, to pursue a master’s degree in directing. “When I got back I had to try and re-adapt to what felt like an unfamiliar place when I got back home. It was 2016 and we were in the middle of trying to sign a peace agreement with the Guerrilla, put our fifty years of war to an end. There were some people who supported it and others who didn’t. We were very polarized as a country,” says David.
“At the same time, in the U.S.A, Donald Trump began running for president. He spoke a lot about building a wall to create a barrier between America and Mexico. I had also just gotten back from Spain where Catalonia was trying to separate itself from the rest of the country. Somehow in every place I knew about, people were trying to set up borders between each other. I realized that we think we are so connected, but we are unable to communicate. I felt like the world needed a story about reconnecting with each other.”
The Border is filmed in the northern region of Colombia in La Guajira, home to the Wayuu community, and incidentally, also David’s parents. “I am very connected with what happened to them as a community. They have been neglected by the government for a very long time. They are closer to Venezuela than to Colombia even though they are Colombians. In recent times, due to the political unrest in Venezuela, they do not have access to clean water, education or the kind of basic needs that ought to be covered for everyone.”
“It was very difficult to get to know them better, but also very fascinating. They are an oral community; they do not like to tell their stories through books or literature. The women form a strong spiritual connection with their dreams,” says David. “Everyday they try to find power and meaning in their dreams, looking to reconnect with their souls and understand what is real to them.”
Talking about the symbolism within the film, David says “The border is not just a physical place of geographical separation. It’s also the difference between being alive and dead, about what is real and what you dream of, about your hopes and fears – it’s a barrier for many opposite concepts.”
On his favourite scenes from the The Border, David says “There are some shots, like the sequences of the dreams, that I really like because I think they look like they’re straight out of a painting. It was more about the visuals and the aesthetic. We shot in places that were very isolated, but very beautiful because they were raw and natural. They evoke a certain emotion – they make you feel a certain way. That’s exactly what I wanted. Somehow in Latin America we are attacked by all these industries from Hollywood that have all these effects. It’s very dreamy, but it’s not connected to what is real to you. I prefer an approach that is more raw, personal, intimate and human.”
David explains that the peace agreement brought about two conflicting sentiments. “Some people feel like, as a country, we need to forget about everything that happened in the past and try to focus on building a better future. Others felt like we needed to keep investigating and see how we could make things fair again for everyone who suffered from the conflict and the violence. It’s easy to understand why someone would want justice after what happened to their loved ones who disappeared due to the war. But at the same time there’s a new generation that wants to forget about all the sorrow that they’ve been carrying from the war. This will be a fascinating subject to explore in my next film.”