Under the Shadow of the Wall
Our Take – Small Axe Radical Short Film Reviews by Cole Diment
Under the Shadow of the Wall is not only an introspective meditation on the political meanings of the here the US-Mexican border but also a moody, dark piece that also explores its affective measures. It’s title alone conjures the realm of horror and sci-fi – shadows conjuring the ghostly, the haunting, the malevolent. It is this genre register that allows Taylor Genovese to explore the extra-terrestrial quality of the border; it is not of the land yet violently imposed upon its surface.
The absurdity of the border that comes through in the long shots of Under the Shadow of the Wall. Genovese shoots the incredible landscapes of the Sonoran desert in magnificent style. The images conjure a sense of wanderlust if you will. Yet the brutal obstruction of the wall sits as an abstraction upon the land, a monolith that breaks and disrupts the inherent flow and continuity of all land with itself. Though borders may be natural (a river, a cliff), the wall border is thoroughly un-natural, a human creation born of fears and anxieties of what lies beyond.
The sci-fi genre provides an important register through which to explore the language of migration, particularly in US media. This is the concept of the alien. So often applied to migrants from Mexico to the US, the concept of the alien very little de-territorialises, even extra-territorialises, the intended Mexican targets. This language acts as fuel for American border policy (detention centers, ICE, maltreatment and inhumanity). Yet in Under the Shadow of the Wall their are no humans that are alien and neither land. Instead, what is alien here is the border itself.
Taylor has given us three links for you to read and familiarise yourself with:
No More Deaths/No Más Muertes (https://nomoredeaths.org/en/) – Taylor has worked with this group since its inception carrying vital water supplies to deposit in the desert surrounding the US/Mexico border in order to serve the migrant communities that are traversing the landscape.
Center for Biological Diversity (https://www.biologicaldiversity.org) – The main interlocutor who Taylor interviewed in the film worked for this nonprofit. They have been very active in raising awareness of the ecological disaster that the border wall has caused.
The Tohono O’odham Nation (http://www.tonation-nsn.gov/nowall/) an Indigenous community whose traditional lands have been severed by the wall (the peoples of this area have, for thousands of years, occupied the land cut in two by two colonial nation states: the US and Mexico).