Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

Latvia's eastern borders mark the outer edge of the European Union. We look at a couple of frontier oddities in the areas where Latvia borders on to Belarus and Russia.

article summary —

A dozen years ago Latvian film director Laila Pakalnina made a very evocative short film about how life in communities on the Daugava river had changed since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Pramis (The Ferry) is a remarkable piece of cinematography - long silences, knowing glances, and a light touch that takes the pulse of everyday life in Piedruja, a small village on the north bank of the Daugava. For years a little ferry linked Piedruja with neighbouring Druja, the larger community on the south bank of the river - which belongs to Belarus. This was an open border, with little by way of officialdom. But Latvian independence in 1991 rewrote the script for relations between Minsk and Riga. In her documentary, Pakalnina highlights the nonsense of borders that separate communities that were once closely linked. The ferry over the Daugava gone, those who lived in Piedruja could do nothing but gaze at the town on the other side of the river.


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About the authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 13.