CHRONICLES OF THAT TIME
“Reconstruct the melody to reconstruct a chronicle of that time”. The film is in search of the melody a friend shared with the filmmakers 15 years ago when they were travelling together between North Africa and Sicily. As a seasonal worker from Tunisia, who lived on the island of Lampedusa, Abdelhamid had become the witness to the shift from the past border regime to a new one, to the borderisation process taking place in southern Europe. What has happened between the moment when this melody was recorded on now obsolete videotape and the moment when it is taken up again today, continued in the form of new musical performances? Drawing on new and unedited material from previous projects, the film recomposes a chronicle made out of fragments, of lacunae and hauntings. It explores the transformations in the Mediterranean region over the past decades and highlights the necropolitical drift of European migration policies when immemorial forms of solidarity and rescue at sea are criminalised, when the deportation or pushback of people have become widespread and camps proliferate on the other shore, when people are left to die at sea.
While migration and borders are generally perceived as spatial processes, Chronicles of that time focuses instead on the temporal dimension of these phenomena. A series of subjective and historical perspectives emerges to contradict the common notion of a “migration emergency” always linked to the present moment. These alternative temporalities invite us to envisage a chronicle that is singular in its refusal to coincide with the official version of history arranged by treaty dates and political decisions that have made migration illegal. The film reflects in particular on how the current border regime in southern Europe has not only established new terms for naming the reality it produced but also profoundly reconfigured what can be perceived by creating new partitions between the visible and the invisible. Emphasising some recent developments in European migration policies, which contribute to keeping border violence out of sight, the film shifts attention from the “border spectacle” invariably exposed in mainstream media to unheard or neglected voices and histories — to the aesthetic and political dimensions of listening.