Indie Flicks: FENCE - Pushing Boundaries
“Fence” is a short film directed by Lendita Zeqiraj that pushes generational boundaries. We see a family of all women and we hear them (loudly) discuss and argue about their beliefs and opinions on life and love. Genti, the only boy in the house, desperately tries to get his mother’s attention but is pushed aside and scolded more often than not. The film opens with a shot of the younger women in the family dancing and laughing to a pop song. You can hear the older women in the background yelling at them to turn down the music but they just keep on dancing. After overhearing a story her aunt is telling about a friend who dated a foreigner, one of the younger women shouts, “the foreigners are gentlemen,” to which her aunt replies, “say what you want sweetheart, men are all the same.” These words exchanged at the very beginning of film opens up a dialogue about men hating that we hear throughout. While the younger women dance and have fun, talking about dates and such, the older ones snicker at their naivety.
Genti leaves the commotion going on in the house and heads outside where his mother and aunt are talking intensely about how much his aunt hates her mother-in-law. A baby walks out on to the front lawn and we learn he belongs to one of the younger girls. The makes remarks about how dumb his mother is and how these young girls have no decency. The younger girls come out and laugh and giggle as the mother retrieves her child. It is easy to see why the aunt gets so upset with her niece. While she is inside having fun, her baby is walking around aimlessly. It is easy to assume that the middle-aged women get so upset with the young girls because when they were their age, they were not having fun.
We soon find out that one of the younger girls is dating a black man and her family does not approve. The generational boundaries that come with the accepting of different races and people becomes prevalent in this scene. Her older aunts make snarky remarks when they hear and upon finding out she has told the family about her new boyfriend, her mother tells her she brought shame. The young girl begins to speak about how she is in love but her mother tries to shut her down quick. She tells her daughter she knows nothing about love. The mother’s harsh tone and nature from the first time we see her amplifies this argument with her daughter by about 1000. Her older aunt tells her she “can not rely on those foreigners” and the young girl responds by asking if any man could be trusted. Her mother continues to make rude remarks about her boyfriend and the young girl, who we find out is named Rozi, yells that just because her mother is unhappy does not mean she has to be too. The older aunts giggle and one of them sarcastically asks if Rozi thinks any of them are happy.
It really intrigues me that this house full of all women bases a lot of the conversation about how awful men are. Rozi’s mother remarks that everyone is happy in the first month, but when her daughter ends up on the streets she’ll learn what love is (implying that she will kick Rozi out for having a black boyfriend). It is interesting to see how while the women have children and are probably married (one even speaks about caring for her mother-in-law), there is not a grown man in sight. Perhaps these older women have such a bad outlook toward men because the ones they are with are never around. The scene where Rozi’s mother discusses how much she hates her mother-in-law is also intriguing. While this woman is her husband’s mother, she is still the one responsible for caring for her. It is amazing to see how the older generation, while all seem to hate men, also seem like they act a certain way (timid, quiet) to please their husbands. The younger, more liberated generation still has hope and believes in love. Once the argument escalates, Rozi tells her that she won’t become a slave like her. I think that this is reference to her mother doing whatever her husband asks, even if she does not want to. Her daughter then tells her that she would rather kill herself then live a life like her mother. A powerful statement for many different reasons.
The argument really begins to get heated when Rozi tells her mother to manage her own screwed up life and all hell breaks loose. Her mother grabs onto her hair and refuses as she yells at her daughter about how stupid and selfish she is. Keep in mind that the whole reason this fight is even happening is because Rozi is dating a black man. This fight represents the differences in the generations to me, I can’t imagine one that would do a better job of it.
All throughout the film, little Genti is trying to coerce his mother into letting him get a dog. He begs her to get him one for his birthday and when she dismisses him he becomes upset. When a little homeless boy and his dog come to their fence and Genti goes crazy for the pup. His mother yells that is dirty and carries disease and to never bring it near her home again. While inside, Genti tells one of his older aunts how badly he wants a puppy and she also goes on to tell him how dirty they are. Once the argument between Rozi and her mother begins to die down, Genti shouts and leaves the house because he feels as if no one is listening to him. Once outside, he sees the boy again. He hops the fence in his front yard and goes over to talk to the boy and play with his dog. The boy tells him he knows where to get him a puppy. Genti runs inside to ask his mom if he can go but there is so much commotion that he just gets frustrated and leaves. He hops the fence again and goes off with his new friend.
While I am one to overanalyze, the fence in the film really symbolized a lot for me. The fence is around this house where all of these women are and we never see any of them step outside of it. Even when Genti’s mother is scolding the little boy, she stays on the inside of the fence. The only person in the family that we see go out onto the other side is Genti, the only boy in the family. I really feel as if the fence was used to show how trapped the women are. Whether it be in bad marriages or simply just them being unhappy with their lives and never feeling like they can do anything about it. Since Genti is the only boy, it will be easier for him to get out. He will have more freedom to do things while these women are stuck in their unhappy lives forever. That was without a doubt the most powerful message I received from this film.