Beyond the border, the review: the “reverse shot” of I Captain

The review of Beyond the Border: in theaters since 11 September, Alessandro Valenti’s film tells a story similar to that of Garrone’s film, with two very young people who live in Africa and dream of a better life, Europe, Italy; But it’s a very different film…

Beyond the border, the review: the 'reverse shot' of I Captain

Just a few days after the theatrical release of I captain by Matteo Garrone, awarded in Venice and now also by the public, another film on the theme of migration arrives at the cinema, the one we tell you about in review of Beyond the Border, in theaters September 11th. Beyond the Border, written and directed by Alessandro Valenti, tells a story similar to that of Garrone’s film, with two very young people who live in Africa and dream of a better life, Europe, Italy. Beyond the border However, it is a very different film, which features two children. As such it is seen from their point of view, and therefore comes closer to the fairy tale. And, more than the journey, it focuses on the departure and arrival; more than facts about state of mind. Beyond the border it shows us migrations from a new perspective, that of the very young, and for this reason it is delicate, poetic, and enchanting.

This star is called Rome

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Beyond the Border: a scene from the film

Beyond the border, presented at the Giffoni Film Festival 2022, at the Sotto18 Torino Film Festival and at the Montréal Film Festival, where it recently won the Best Film Award, tells the story of two African children who look at the stars and dream of arriving in Italy. “This star is called mom“. “This star is called chocolate“. “This star is called Rome“. Bekisisa is twelve years old and has a magical voice that enchants animals; her little brother Eno is six, and dreams of having the shirt of Sadio Mané, the great Senegalese footballer who made the history of Liverpool and has now moved to play in Saudi Arabia. In Europe, perhaps, he will be able to have his original shirt, and not the copy that his father had taken from him. After the death of their mother, alone, they leave their land, reaching Italy, where in reality it is certainly not suitable for children.

I Captain, review: Garrone completes his “trilogy of hope”

Migration with children in mind

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Beyond the border: a photo

Beyond the Border, which curiously arrives in theaters almost at the same time as Garrone’s film, could be considered a sort of reverse shot of I Captain, a complementary story. Not just because it focuses on the arrival more than the journey. But why chooses to address the topic of migration with children in mind, to the many lonely minors who reach Europe where they find themselves without anyone. For a child, living without parents is already hard in itself; doing it in a foreign country is something unthinkable. Yet it happens. And it is from this reflection, from the urgency of telling a story of this type, that Valenti was born when he looked into the eyes of a child who had crossed an entire continent to get here. It is not difficult to understand then how much this film is a heartfelt, sincere film.

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Beyond the Border: a photo from the film

A rarefied, poetic, fairy-tale film

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Beyond the border: an image

That’s exactly why the film has a very particular setting. Valenti is not interested in the journey, he is not interested in showing a series of events, the Odyssey of many people, but rather the situation that can be created upon arrival. What matters is not so much the facts, but more the dreams, the sensations, the states of mind. The result is a rarefied, poetic, fairy-tale film. A story that develops through words, but also the unsaid, like certain expressions on the faces of the very young protagonists. And, again, through the relationship with nature, with animals, with bees, evoked at the beginning of the film and protagonists, in a surprising ending on the border between reality and magical realism, of the turning point of the story.

Becoming adults too quickly

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Beyond the Border: a still from the film

Which is a history of migrations, but not only that. It is the story of some children forced to grow up suddenly, to become adults too quickly, to make do even through actions that they shouldn’t even know about. Forced, in fact, to lose forever that still free area that is childhood, and which no child should ever give up. There are too many, not just migrants, to whom this happens. This is why Beyond the Border is a universal film, which speaks to everyone. At times, we were reminded of the TV series Anna, written and directed by Niccolò Ammaniti, in which children were forced to fend for themselves after an epidemic that had eliminated the adults. Completely different premises, but that feeling of pain and disbelief that seeing children abandoned to themselves causes us is the same.

Anna, the review: The hope of a world without memory

The fairy and the boogeyman

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Beyond the Border: a sequence from the film

So Beyond the border, as well as a film written and directed, is a film of actors. What is striking, first of all, are the faces of the two protagonists, Mabye Serigne Fallou and Mbaye Fatou Ndeye, in the role of little Eno and his very young sister Bekisisa. The affection, the harmony, the understanding between the two protagonists, with intense, credible, convincing faces, is one of the keys to the film. In every moment of the work we give in to what we are seeing and the credit goes to them too, in addition, obviously, to a brilliant casting choice. Which also includes the presence of Iaia Forte, in the role of a woman who helps children, and Nicola Rignanese, a specialist in roles of this type, in the role of a criminal who exploits children to work. They are the fairy and the boogeyman. And which further makes us understand that we are in a fairy tale.


In the review of Beyond the Border we told you about a film that talks about migration and which features two children: it is seen from their point of view, and therefore comes close to a fairy tale. Beyond the Border shows us migrations from a new perspective, that of the very young, and for this reason it is delicate, poetic, and enchanting. And it touches on magical realism.

Because we like it

  • The choice to talk about migrations through the eyes of two children.
  • The fairy-tale structure that characterizes the story.
  • The chemistry between the two young protagonists.

What’s wrong

  • The narrative, which at times denotes a certain monotony.

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