The Border (La Raya in its original language) is the debut short film of Jose Pedraza Martinez, a filmmaker and visual artist whose passionate auteur work has provided impressive results. Revolutionary and unique because of many traits that we would cover in this review, The Border deals with the essential subjects of human rights, grander politics, identity, peace, war and the individual caught in-between.
The catalyst occurs when a man tries to cross the neighbouring border, thus triggering a conflict of magnitude proportions. The most straightforward task of walking from point A to point B takes a turn while the audience tries to comprehend the meaning of the underlying theme. There's nothing to worry about, even for those who need more time to get involved in the film. The storytelling, although complex, is transparent enough for the ordinary viewer to participate in. That's why Pedraza Martinez decided to focus on the exposition for longer than subsequent acts. Given that geography is key to unlocking the context, the relatively naturalistic introduction transports us to the land of endless conflict.
As mentioned prior, it's authentic how the filmmaker juxtaposes digital images with animation and decides to combine them; first, it gravitates towards the digital. Then, when it introduces the central dilemma, the technique of expression is more interested in animation than anything else.
In addition, the fact that it's the same model of a character replicated in all sides of the conflict provokes us to analyze the issues of identity and self-destruction. At the same time, the concept of having the same model is utterly cinematic. It's the colours and set design that separate the people from the first country with the second. With these creative devices set in motion, the director showcases how depth and individualization could be done with costumes above everything else.
The Border has a substantial amount of references and is heavy on the subtext. Meaning, Jose Pedraza Martinez's academic knowledge is implemented in every frame/scene, from robust discourse to Hitler's historical speeches to Dante's 'Inferno' and Munch's 'Scream'. Essentially, the visual discourse techniques (with a noteworthy mentioning of Ferdinand de Saussure's approach towards visual language) used here to become more transparent with the subsequent viewing experiences – the magnitude of layers present The Border as a thought-provoking film, and it’s advised for the audience to have foreknowledge on some of the subjects, or at least to be patient while the film runs. That would undoubtedly be rewarding, as the title acts symbolically in terms of suggestiveness and subversivity.
In conclusion, The Border (La Raya) is an engaging short film that combines different techniques to achieve a broader array of ideas and meanings. Jose Pedraza Martinez, signed as the auteur who engages in a project most passionately and tirelessly, allows us to glimpse inside their creative mind, with the promise that they’ll continue with the authentic approach to filmmaking.