France/ UK , 2004
27 min. Digibeta PAL, Colour, Stereo
Directed, Produced, Written, Camera, Edited Laura Waddington
Co-produced Love Streams Agnes b. Paris
Music Simon Fisher Turner
Voice Laura Waddington

The 57th Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland, August 2004

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In 2002, Laura Waddington spent months in the fields around Sangatte Red Cross camp, France with Afghan and Iraqi refugees, who were trying to cross the channel tunnel to England. Filmed at night with a small video camera, the figures lit only by the distant car headlights on the motorways, Border is a personal account of the refugees' plight and the police violence that followed the camp's closure.

Director's statement

In the days, if you wandered along the motorways and the wastelands, you could see the refugees everywhere: waiting on the roadside or headed to the port and the freight trains. They travelled in twos or threes or sometimes in groups of twenty or thirty. 
At night, I'd walk along the roads with them. It took two or three hours to reach the spots on the channel tunnel fence, where they'd start to cut the wire. Then came the arrests and the police bus back to the camp. A few hours later, they'd re-emerge and the perverse game of cat and mouse would start again. 
Most of the refugees were from Iraq and Afghanistan. They'd taken six or seven months to get to France, paying traffickers to smuggle them in trucks across Iran, Turkey and the Balkans. Many had nothing left but the clothes they were standing in. In their countries, they'd been teachers, university professors, medical students, and bricklayers. 
Some men died in the tunnel, others had their arms or legs cut off by the moving trains. I remember, one boy who lost his leg was out on the road, the week he was released from the hospital, trying to escape again. The months passed in limbo. I couldn't believe we had just left them there, as if our backs were turned to them.

Laura Waddington 2002

Press Quotes

  • " But the shock of the (Locarno film) festival is the cinema of Laura Waddington, 34 years old, English, she lived illegally in New York, then spent a few years travelling with the world's exiles in the most dangerous places. Due to a plane phobia, she made these journeys on buses, cargo ships, hitchhiking. But aside from planes, Laura Waddington is afraid of nothing and her video camera carries all her courage and her conscience. Slung across her shoulder. Border is the trace of the months she spent in Sangatte, hidden in the fields, each night, with Afghan and Iraqi refugees. Shot secretly, the shutter wide open, almost in slow motion, the images create an aesthetic experience of fear, of terror, as if fallen out of a nightmare, peopled with out of focus figures. Border links the fields of Sangatte to that terrified part of our imagination, hidden deep within all of us. "
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    Philippe Azoury, LIBERATION, Paris
  • " A thousand miles away from the television reports that vainly try to give a hypothetical identity to these displaced bodies, Laura Waddington’s desperate camera scrupulously avoids the refugees’ faces to convey an animal condition, a status of hunted beasts. Nothing predatory, no social dogma, just real empathy in this worried and audacious filming. And if the image is superb, at times pushing Border towards the boundaries of video dance and thus annoying certain guards of the temple of ethics, this is primarily due to a technical necessity, the DV camera’s shutter wide open to compensate for the lack of light, resulting in a large trembling grain, an impression of slow motion, movements like so many imprints. "

    Bertrand Loutte, LES INROCKUPTIBLES, Paris
  • " Subtle and powerful, the work of this English filmmaker, nomadic observer of the world and devoted translator of fear and hope, as in the film Border (International Competition/ Special Mention) a tragic document about the powerless attempts of Afghan and Iraqi refugees to escape from France to England and the violent police repression that followed the closure of the camp of Sangatte. "

    Elena Marcheschi, IL MANIFESTO, Italy
  • " Set only in the wide open, with refugees, silhouettes in the sheltering darkness, moving in the wind and the rain, crossing landscapes, anonymous to the eye yet known by name to the narrator, Laura Waddington... There's a heroic compassion of quasi-Kurosawa'ian dimensions to each image, a justness to each movement that in its humbleness speaks gloriously of all the growth and learning done in all those years on the road. "

    Olaf Möller , THE DAYS AND YEARS OF MY TRAVELS, The 51st Pesaro Film Fest Catalogue 2005
  • " Have the fireflies disappeared? Of course not. Some of them are very close to us, they brush against in the dark: others have gone over the horizon, to try to rebuild elsewhere their community, their minority, their shared desire. Here remain for us the images of Laura Waddington and the names - in the end credits - of all those whom she met. We can watch the film again, we can give it to others to watch, we can circulate fragments, that will give rise to others; firefly-images. "

    Georges Didi-Huberman, SURVIVANCE DES LUCIOLES, Les Éditions de Minuit, Paris, 2009
more press quotes


Grand Prix Experimental-essai-art video, Cote Court, France 2005
First Prize Videoex 2005, Festival of  Experimental Film and Video Zurich, Switzerland
Special Mention Ecumenical Jury, The 51st Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Germany

Desist Film'sTop 50 Films of All Time


The 57th Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland, August 2004 (World premiere)
The 33rd Montreal Festival of New Cinema and New Media, Canada, 2004
The 19th Festival International du Film de Belfort, France, 2004
The Human Rights Film Festival, Zagreb, Croatia, 2004
The 36th International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2005
The 59th Edinburgh International Film Festival, Scotland, 2005
The European Parliament, Brussels, 2005
“La Semaine des realisateurs, 2005” Fespaco, Ouagadougou, Burkinao Faso, 2005
The 51st Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Germany,  2005
The 12th New York Video Festival 2005, Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York, 2005
One World, 7th International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Prague, 2005
The Images Festival, 18th Edition, Toronto, Canada, 2005
“Cine y Casi Cine”, The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2005
The 6th Seoul Film Festival, South Korea, “Manifesta”, 2005
Le 28ème Festival du Court Métrage de Clermont-Ferrand, France, 2006
The 21st Mar del Plata International Film Festival, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2006
“Vidéo et après: Laura Waddington” Musée National d'art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, November 2006

more screenings


Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, BnF, Paris
International Film Festival Oberhausen, Film and video archive, Germany
Cité Nationale de l'Histoire de l'Immigration, Paris
The Cinematheque de Tangiers, Morocco
INVIDEO Archive A.I.A.C.E, Milan, Italy
Bibliothèque de l'Université Laval, Quebec, Canada
Bibliothèque de l'Ecole supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Nimes, France
Bibliotheque de l’Universite de Geneve, Switzerland
Texas A&M University Library, Texas, US


The Two Speeds Frontera . Filippo Del Lucchese ,, Italy 2005
Laura Waddington: The Videomaker of Wandering . Pascal Mieszala , Plan Rapproché, 2005
Interview with Laura Waddington . Olaf Möller , The 51st Pesaro Film Festival Catalogue, 2005
Interview with Laura Waddington (LaDoc-Lectures, Koln) . Saskia Walker , Revolver Magazine - no17, 2007, Berlin, 2005,
Smash the Border . By Cedric Eltimich , Web Reporters, Brussels, 2004
Abdullah and the Fireflies: On reading Georges Didi Huberman's "Survivance des Lucioles" . Laura Waddington , Engramma; Issue 84, "Lucciole malgrado tutto", Italy, October 2010
The Days and Years of My Travels . Olaf Möller , The 51st Pesaro Film Festival Catalogue, 2005
Highway, Road, Bus, Embankment. About Laura Waddington's Film Border . Mari Laanemets , Crime and Punishment, Kunsthalle Tallinn, Estonia, 2007
The Pain of Seeing: The Videos of Laura Waddington . Bouchra Khalili , The 51st Oberhausen Short Film Festival Catalogue, 2005
Laura Waddington, Border . Fiona Trigg , Turbulence, The 3rd Auckland Triennial Catalogue, 2007
Free Cameras . Philippe Azoury , Libération, Paris, 2004
Sangatte Frontier of The World . Federica Sossi ,, Italy 2005
Laura Waddington: The Clandestine Camera . Mathilde Blottière , Télérama, France, 2006
The Serene Anger of Laura Waddington . Eric Chauveau , Sud Ouest, France, 2005
Border: The Videographic Traces by Laura Waddington as a Cinematographic Memorial . Eva Kuhn , "Images of Illegalized Immigration" Basel University, Switzerland 2009
Suspicious Images: Iconoclasm and the Prohibition of Representation . Chari Larsson , Conference University of Queensland, Australia 2010
more articles & interviews