Europlex

2003
Distributed by Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Fronterasur RRTV
Directed by Ursula Biemann and Angela Sanders
VHS, color, 20 min.
Sr. High - Adult
African Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Women's Studies, Economics


Reviewed by Lourdes Vazquez, Rutgers University

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 2/24/2004

Organized in different segments or logs, this documentary shows the daily life of the Moroccan women who cross the borders for day jobs. It is also the story of those women who cross the same frontiers returning with illegal goods to be sold in Moroccan territory. Using digital graphics, video footage, and text, the documentary opens with the log “Sahara” in which a meteor hits the dessert, breaking and multiplying itself. Due to this event the scientists, the military and the smugglers take an interest in the zone. The directors use this event as a prologue to establish parallels between the consequences of this natural calamity and the impact of the global market model across borders.

The directors enter the daily life of the border-crossers with a clandestine camera. The camera identifies the military and the smugglers, most of them women, crossing the frontier by foot up to eleven times per day and paying off officials who look the other way in order to bring clothes back to Morocco. The camera follows the smugglers until the border officials identify it and shut it down. The camera moves into a second scenario in which women workers travel daily by bus to factories in Tangier to peel imported shrimp for European companies. Transnational European companies hire these women workers to process biological products in accordance with European standards. Once the product is finished they will be shipped and consumed in Europe.

The third part of this documentary takes place at the border crossing between Morocco and Ceuta. Ceuta has been under the control of Spain since the fifteenth century and is administered as an integral part of the Cadiz province. Domésticas or housemaids commute daily to Ceuta to take care of the children and the elderly of the Spanish families. In this “border economy” the women move between two time zones with a two hours difference which seemingly does not affect them, for they move with ease.

The borders of Europe have grown to the north of Africa forming what an unseen commentator calls a “spice and power border” ruled by the Europeans. The everyday mobility of these women creates new spatial borders where they confront governments and the economies at the local and transnational level. The languages spoken in the film are Arabic or English, but English subtitles are provided when necessary. The video footage does not contain sharp clear images, probably due to the clandestine direction. The sound quality varies considerably.

Europlex was produced by Fronterasur RRTV a group of artists, writers and activists examining the Spanish-Moroccan borderlands. Although this documentary was co-directed by Ursulla Beimann and Angela Sanders, this is the fourth documentary Biemann has filmed investigating migration across borders. Her other films include Remote Sensing (2001), Writing Desire (2000) and Performing the Border (1999). This film is best suited for high school students, undergraduate or graduate students of African studies, Middle Eastern studies or women’s studies. It could also be of interest to sociology, political science or history students. It is a recommended purchase for libraries with extensive film and video collections on this topic.