CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 19 . . . . May 27, 2005
A Border Story is part of a National Film Board 13-part series called “My Brand New Life” that “challenges young viewers to question their preconceptions and prejudices” while it “encourages them to expand their cultural horizons.”
Antoine’s and Olivia’s visits are similarly structured, starting off with a warm greeting, followed by a general knowledge quiz about each other’s country and a gift exchange (including national anthem lyrics to be sung later). Their activities involve taking in holiday events such as parades and fireworks and trying “exotic” foods. In Canada, they visit the Canadian Museum of Civilization and in Washington, the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture.
film is composed of interviews, video diary segments, and “candid
shots” (unobtrusively following the participants). Interview
questions for the general public are geared toward the perceived differences
between Canada and the United States while questions posed to the
participants often call for their reflections and observations.
Visually, this film is quick-paced, modern, and interesting, utilizing many different techniques, such as pop-ups that provide pertinent information (ex. “Beaver tails = pastry”), experimenting with camera angles and framing, etc. The music is contemporary, beginning with a catchy tune that resembles a sitcom’s opening. Sound effects——whistles, bonks, boings, and applause——often enhance the content, like in the quiz segment, for example.
Along the action-packed way (the whole film spans only five days), Antoine and Olivia become friends. This narrative component to the film is subtle but effective. It’s a story about the adventures of traveling and broadening one’s knowledge of another place as much as it is a story about an otherwise unlikely meeting and friendship. Rapport is developed in a light and good-natured way and culminates at the end when Antoine gives Olivia a thoughtful parting gift. Most importantly, the film models empathy in a genuine way.
A Border Story would fit nicely into any social studies, history, geography, or English unit, but it should also be made available to children at public libraries, as it creates awareness about a variety of fundamental issues in a believable way.
Andrea Szilagyi is a graduate student studying children’s literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.