With a sharp eye, Nikolaus Geyrhalter (Homo sapiens, Our Daily Bread) explores the few square kilometers around the Brenner Pass. In 2016, this border between Austria and Italy suddenly became the setting for changing EU policy on the refugee crisis. After the closure of the Balkan route, Austria was worried that refugees would flood through the Brenner Pass. So in the spring of 2016, the government took “construction measures,” a euphemism for putting up a fence.
Geyrhalter conducted detailed interviews with local police officers, hikers, farmers, toll collectors and cafe owners, filmed in precisely composed shots. Here in this small border area, we hear a wide range of views, often remarkably balanced, and ranging from covert xenophobia to criticism of the populist government. Geyrhalter respects every opinion and makes no judgments.
The camera records a static and almost immobile Tirol using wide-angle lenses and long shots. In his portrait of the locals and their deeply-rooted traditions, Geyrhalter also hints at the absurdity of the border, telling a larger, urgent story about the state of Europe.