Valkātājs / Latvian Coyote

Director Ivars Zviedris describes his film as follows: “An absurd game of ‘finding happiness’ is being played by local Latvian coyotes (people who smuggle others across the border) and illegal immigrants on the Russian and the European Union border.  It is a game with no winner – all participants are driven to play by a sense of despair. While one side leaves home and undertakes a perilous journey to the other side of the globe, hoping to spend the rest of their lives in a free country, the other side risks freedom to earn a chance to stay right where they are, in their homeland.”

The film takes place in the borderlands, overlapping with the locations of our Emptiness project. Along with its human characters – Pepe, Guna, the border guards, and the border crossers – the film features empty houses, crumbling wallpaper, and left behind photos. Upon release from prison, where Pepe served time for smuggling, he is given 2 euros. It is not enough for a bus fare to the emptying borderlands.

The film is the winner of the 2020 Ji.hlava festival and the recipient of the 2020 Latvian National Cinema prize “Lielais Kristaps”.


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If you would like to find out more about the project or contribute a blog on a resonant aspect of your own research to the Field Reports section of our website, please get in touch by writing to emptiness@anthro.ox.ac.uk.