La Frontière is a poetic documentary portrait of Maine’s border with Canada, exploring the history and culture of these borderlands.
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Directed & Produced by Megan Ruffe & Katy Haas
Director of Photography Lindsay Taylor Jackson
Cinematography by Lindsay Taylor Jackson & Jared Ames
Principal photography for La Frontière was completed in 2022 and we are now raising funds to finish the film and bring it to audiences in New England and beyond!
Any donations made are greatly appreciated and tax-deductible. Credit cards or checks can be accepted, though donations made by card will have a small fee deducted. Checks can be mailed directly to UnionDocs, 352 Onderdonk Ave, Ridgewood, NY 11385. Please note La Frontière in the memo. Thank you so much for your interest in La Frontière!
Image: Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, Maine. By Linday Taylor Jackson.
The border between the United States and Canada is the longest international border in the world. Six-hundred and eleven of those miles distinguish Maine from its northern neighbors Quebec and New Brunswick, dividing towns, homes, and nations that existed long before the two it separates today. La Frontière is a poetic documentary portrait of these US/Canadian borderlands, their peoples, culture and the stories of a place that is distinctly its own.
Image: Madawaska, Maine border crossing at night. By Lindsay Taylor Jackson.
The border between the United States and Canada is the longest international border in the world. Six-hundred and eleven of those long, winding miles distinguish Maine from its northern neighbors, Quebec and New Brunswick, curving through acres of coniferous forest, along rivers and lakes, dividing towns, homes, and nations that existed long before the two it separates today.
In the far northern town of Estcourt, Maine is a backyard garden whose owner lives just a few feet away in a different country. To tend her radishes and carrots, Renette walks out of her house in Pohenegamook, Quebec and across the international border. She has neighbors whose homes are on the line, dividing parts of the house between America and Canada.
For the Passamaquoddy communities of Maine and New Brunswick, the St. Croix River has always been a way to connect to the land and people on either side. Turning the river into an international border created a division of people and place well established before the United States and Canada were formed.
The border regions of countries can create a space that is its own, not one place or the other, but a measure of each. The St. John Valley in the Northernmost part of Maine has the largest, per-capita French speaking population in the United States, and communities that have gone back and forth across the border for generations. Lise Pelltier, who lives in Fort Kent, Maine, grew up across the river in Canada, while her mother, who lives in Canada now, grew up in the United States.
Though borders are in some ways abstract–they are created from negotiation or formed first on paper maps–they exist in a very physical space, and have incredible consequence. The Cold War and the escalation of nuclear armament after World War II led the United States Air Force to build a base, rife with warheads, on farmland in Northern Maine as close to the edge of the country—and to Russia—as is possible. This massive base and its thousands of personnel transformed the small rural community it sprang up in, driving the economy for nearly half a century; until military consolidation efforts shuttered its doors and relocated personnel nearly as rapidly as it arrived.
Borders are places of potential, routes of exchange, points of tension, but they are also rivers, quiet places in the North Woods, long-standing communities, one end of a road traveling all the way to Florida. How do borders evolve from negotiations of treaties and physically demarcated spaces to personal places imbued with meaning? What does a border mean?
In her 1987 book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, the late scholar Gloria Anzaldúa discusses the “otherness” that borders create; they are neither place they delineate but rather a third thing, creating a third identity that isn’t either-or but the liminal space in-between. La Frontière explores this space, subtly questioning the perception of “the border” in the United States.
This short, documentary film paints a portrait of these borderlands, exploring their humanity and complexity. Through vérité moments, archival footage, and beautiful landscapes, La Frontière takes its viewers on a journey of both place and understanding. In this film, by focusing on our northern border, we hope we can contribute to a larger conversation about the political and personal impact borders have in our lives.
Image: Potato fields in bloom in Aroostook Co., Maine. By Jared Ames.
|The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment
|August 30, 2023
|Ruffe Family Charitable Fund
|September 11, 2023
|Peter & Gail Haas
|August 01, 2023