International film crew visits Blaine from Belarus to study border interactions

Published on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 by Brandy Kiger

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The way the city of Blaine interacts with the Canadian border is drawing international attention. Last week, a film crew from BUG-TV out of Brest, Belarus visited Blaine to interview local businesses and individuals on what it’s like to live on the border.

The journalists applied for and received a grant from the U.S. State Department to create their film. As part of their investigation into how border cities cope with and overcome the artificial divisions created by border lines, the crew also visited El Paso, Texas, and Niagara Falls, New York during their 14-day stay.

The two Belarusian journalists, accompanied by a member of the U.S. State Department and a media specialist from Belarus, are producing a documentary that examines the intricacies and nuances of border life, a matter close to the heart of Belarus.

“They are looking at how borders can work together cooperatively,” said State Department spokesman Alan Botto.
Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe that shares its borders with Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest.

“Borders tend to divide people,” Belarusian media specialist Alex Kruglykov said. “But, over time, people overcome those artificial borders. It’s really interesting to see unprotected backyards [in Blaine]. We’re used to seeing former Soviet Union borders with lines and fences that are heavily protected.”

While they were not allowed to film directly at the border crossing, the crew did talk with local business owners to gain their perspective on border life.

“It’s a vibrant exchange of cultural context,” Kruglykov said. “From an economical point of view, it’s really interesting.”

The documentary project will be a series of programs comparing border life situations in the U.S. and Belarus, and it will air in Belarus.