Our Rating: ★★★½☆
L Factor: Major lesbian character
Short Take: Three college students take a canoe trip, crossing the border between Slovenia and Croatia. Zana is in love with Alja.
Alternate Titles: Varuh meje
Year: 2002
Duration: 101 min
Language: Slovenia, Germany, France/Slovenian
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Maja Weiss
Writer: Zoran Hocevar, Brock Norman Brock
Starring: Gasper Jarni, Milada Kalezic, Igor Korsic, Iva Krajnc, Domen Novak, Boris Ostan, Tanja Potocnik, Semka Sokolovic-Bertok, Zvonimir Torjanac, Vladimir Vlaskalic, Pia Zemljic, Gorazd Zilavec, Jonas Znidarsic

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Guardians of the Frontier

It’s summer break in Slovenia, and three college students decide to get away from it all on a canoe trip down the Kolpa River, which separates Slovenia from Croatia. Alja (Tanja Potocnik), Simona (Iva Krajnc) and Zana (Pia Zemljic) are all happy to just float away and sunbathe topless.

It turns out to be a trip about crossing many different borders. Alja deals with pressures to be ‘normal’ by marrying and having children. The naive Simona seems obsessed with finding a fairytale man, but is confronted by men in a different way when they visit a house on the Croatian side of the river. Their hosts are a gay couple, and she disapproves. She’s also horrified when she sees Zana and Alja kissing. Zana is looking for love and pursues Alja throughout the trip.

Issues of nationality, tradition, urban versus rural ‘family’ values, as well as sexism and homophobia are confronted as they are caught crossing the border illegally and then find themselves in a village of people much more aggressively traditional than their young, urban selves. When they are pursued by would be rapists, everything turns even darker.

Simona escapes into a fantasy world as she rejects her friends’ more modern values. Zana and Alja finally make love, but it’s unclear if Alja is interested in the relationship Zana craves.

This is the first Slovenian feature film directed by a woman (Maja Weiss). I have a feeling that many of the cultural references were lost on me, as the fantasy sequences were confusing. The political and social issues are quite fascinating though. (AB)