The Alliance Française in Ahmedabad organised on 6th August – Saturday, a screening of the documentary ‘The Walls of Shame’ made by Thierry Denis & Guy Ratovondrahona. This documentary screening complements the photo exhibition Walls between Men that opened on 5th August 2011 at ATMA – Ashram Road. The exhibition is based on the book “Walls Between People” written by Alexandra Novosseloff Doctor of Political Science, researcher and specialist for the United Nations and maintenance of peace and Frank Neisse political advisor in Kosovo who has participated in several peace maintaining operations. 
The book and the exhibition ‘Walls between people’ focus on 8 walls namely the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, the Green Line that divides the island of Cyprus, the Peace Lines in Northern Ireland, the Berm, a wall of sand that crosses the Western Sahara from north to south, the Barrier built between the United States and Mexico, the Barbed wired Fence around the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta in Morocco, the Electrified Fence along the Line of control between Pakistan and India, the Wall between Israel and Palestine.  The book explores perspectives and challenges of the everyday realities of people living on either side of these walls and provides a geopolitical analysis of the situation.
The movie ‘Walls of shame’, (‘Les murs de la honte’ in French) explores three of these 8 walls. The barrier between USA and Mexico, the wall between Israel and Palestine and the Berlin wall or rather the fall of the Berlin wall. Interviews with people living alongside the walls and complemented by interviews with international political analysts, the movie is at once empathetic and analytical. While the experiences of the people along the border gives you a human perspective to the situation the analysts give you the complexity of the political climate.
Wagah Border (India- Pakistan) – Closing Ceremony

This must watch movie had a profound effect on me. Belonging to one of the countries that built a wall, it made me question if the building of the wall meant the end of hope for reconciliation. Do the infamous India – Pakistan peace talks mean anything when the wall has already been built? Is the wall not the physical representation of accepting that there is no other way? Did we ever question if the wall solved any of our problems or to what extent it serves the objectives it was constructed for? The Wagah border closing ceremony full of nationalist fervour is evidence that ceremonies such as this one and the electrified fence, further distance people of the two countries from each other and make the other seem more foreign and threatening.

The wall between Israel and Palestine was opposed by a majority in the United Nations and it still exists, the USA and Mexico barrier has been responsible for the death of over 3000 people trying to cross it but the wall still exists.
Walls, concrete, barbed wire, electrified are concrete representations of the barriers in our minds, of the rejection of possible amicable solutions, they represent a state of hopelessness. Like the Palestinian artist says at the very beginning of the movie
I heard once that in Japan the bars of the jail are made of roses, still its a jail, even if you have golden bars to your cell, its a jail… anything that will stop you from going where you want to go, without any reason but because of who you are is a jail
To conclude an excerpt from a poem that made a lasting impression on me as a child that came back to me as I was watching the movie:
Mending Wall – Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
……….
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Do ‘Good fences make good neighbours’?
Do watch the movie, visit the website here.
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