Gandras: Land of the White Stork depicts what remains of rural life in two post-Soviet countries where only birds can travel freely across the border.
The border between Belarus and Lithuania was once little more than an insignificant, thin line on a map. The bonds of communal life were strong despite their national diversity. Families often intermarried, creating a common social identity. With the erection of the European external border between Lithuania and Belarus in 2004, many of these border villages were divided. Families were torn apart. Spouses, siblings, and close friends now live an entire world away, although their houses are only a few meters on the other side of the border.
Each year, White Storks (the national bird of both Belarus and Lithuania) herald the coming of spring as they flock northward over the border from Belarus into Lithuania to nest and raise their young. Villagers hope a stork family will nest nearby, bringing new life and harmony to the region. Those who remain in the villages along the Lithuanian border long for the ‘good old days’ when the borders were open and the Soviet collectives were still in operation. They remember a time when wedding music and the sounds of children filled the air. They long for renewal.
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