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Shifting Borders – Lasting Ties (Gozdarska Povest)

Almost immediately after Louis (the director’s grandfather) emigrated from Austria to the US in 1909, the rhythm of life in his native village changed dramatically. From a cultural and economic constancy experienced generation after generation, suddenly there was a complete transformation from one generation to the next. Nationality, army, language, culture all were disrupted by war.

Louis visits his family left behind in Trnovo, a small Alpine village and learns about the forces of political change and wars engulfing their lives. Once Austria, the little village became a part of Italy, and then joined Yugoslavia, and now lastly, it is a part of its cultural home, Slovenia.

These few relatives from the tiny village are so diverse they are the social, cultural and political history of the era. This is a story about family ties and cultural identity that overcome all political divisions.

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The Gorizia Border: Barrier, Bridge or Filter?

The obvious predicament at Slovenia’s western border was the forceful removal or redefinition of the borderline itself many times between 1918 and 1991, displacing people from homes, as well as economic and social activity. But the greater harm for the population resulted from the change in the nature of the border. Before 1918, the borders bound Slovenia in a multinational community, the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After 1918, and the end of World War I, western Slovenia fell under the emerging and dominating nationalism of Mussolini’s Italy, where even use of its own language was outlawed. After World War II, in 1947, the area, terribly debilitated by Nazi and fascist excesses at war’s end, was put under control of communist Yugoslavia, and joined the rest of its ethno-linguistic community, Slovenia. By then, the border had become Tito’s iron curtain, a barrier to economic and social interactions. By 1991, just as Slovenia finally became an independent state, it was at the dawn of a new age of multinationalism. Slovenia joined the so-called Schengen region in 2007, with the virtual erasure of its western border.

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