Border (2009) is a delicate yet complex film from Armenian director Harutyun Khachatryan. With the aesthetic appearance of a simple, meditative look at the lives of people living on the Armenian-Azerbaijan border, Border could be a tale of life in rural Armenia. But life there has changed, of course, because of the post-Soviet border conflict, and sadly, even though we share peoples lives, the image above is the most lasting.
A buffalo, an outsider, is the metaphor Khachatryan uses to portray his feeling of loss, his hatred for the war, and his connection to his country. The people have a living connection to their animals, just as they do to land, but the vulgarity of rabid dogs and the perpetual presence of the barbed-wire fence put a sharp border between them. Continually identified with the buffalo, spectators feel connected to him, present but also unwelcome in the farm. The relationship is threatened, though, by the fire. If the villagers had perhaps paid more attention to the buffalo, then the fire would not have become so devastating – perhaps a lesson on treating all as equal.