Border (2018 Swedish film)

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Border (2018 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAli Abbasi
Screenplay by
Based on"Border"
by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Produced by
  • Nina Bisgaard
  • Peter Gustafsson
  • Petra Jonsson
CinematographyNadim Carlsen
Edited by
  • Olivia Neergaard-Holm
  • Anders Skov
Music by
  • Christoffer Berg
  • Martin Derkov
  • META Film
  • Black Spark Film & TV
  • Karnfilm
Distributed byTriArt Film
Release dates
  • 10 May 2018 (2018-05-10) (Cannes)
  • 31 August 2018 (2018-08-31) (Sweden)
Running time
110 minutes
Box office$2.2 million[1][2]

Border (Swedish: Gräns) is a 2018 Swedish fantasy film directed by Ali Abbasi with a screenplay by Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf and John Ajvide Lindqvist based on the short story of the same name by Ajvide Lindqvist from his anthology Let the Old Dreams Die. It won the Un Certain Regard award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival,[3] and was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards but was not nominated.[4] However, it was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.[5]


Tina works for the Swedish Customs Service and uses her heightened olfactory sense to detect contraband, as well as human emotions such as guilt and shame. She has a strongly Neanderthalic appearance and lives in a secluded house in the woods with Roland, a dog trainer. One day at the border, Tina sniffs out a memory card containing child pornography, and her superior asks her to help with the subsequent investigation.

The next day, a strange man with facial features similar to Tina's appears at customs. His bag is revealed to contain maggots and a device that the man claims is a maggot incubator. Tina lets him pass, but he soon returns and volunteers to be strip searched. Tina is taken aback when she learns that the man has female genitalia and a large scar on his tailbone. The man introduces himself as Vore and states that he will be staying in a nearby hostel.

Tina goes to a nursing home to see her father, who does not look like her. Upon being asked about the origin of her scar, Tina's father tells her she fell on something as a small child. She then visits the hostel where she finds Vore eating maggots off a tree. He gives her one, which she eats. Tina offers him a room in her guest house and he accepts. Tina brings him home. He tries to kiss her. Roland's suspicions are aroused.

Tina accompanies the police when they search the apartment where the suspected pedophiles live, and detects a camera with footage of an infant being sexually abused. The police arrest the occupants, but cannot identify who is trafficking the infants.

During a thunderstorm, Vore enters Tina's house, and the two of them huddle under a table, terrified by the lightning. They finally kiss. Tina later confesses that she has a chromosome deformity which makes it difficult to have sex and impossible to bear children. Vore tells her that it's not a deformity, and she should ignore what humans say about her. Tina is astonished as an erect penis emerges from her groin. The two make love, after which Vore tells Tina that she is a troll, just like he is, and that he is hoping to get in contact with a group of trolls who maintain a furtive existence in Finland.

Tina is excited by her newfound identity and begins living more like a troll, finally mustering the courage to evict Roland. She notices that Vore has taped his refrigerator shut. Upon opening it, she finds a strange infant in a cardboard box. Vore tells Tina that the baby is a hiisi, an unfertilized troll embryo that will soon die. Vore plans to use the hiisi as a changeling, and is waiting to secretly replace a real human infant with the dying troll embryo.

While one of the arrested pedophiles is being transferred, Vore stops the van and kills him. He tells Tina it was to prevent him from telling the police that it was he, Vore, who was trafficking human infants. He also confesses that the infant trafficking is part of a plot by trolls to get their revenge on humans for all the trolls that humans tortured in the 1970s. This disturbs Tina, who believes that past human mistreatment of trolls does not justify such vengeful acts.

The next day, Tina's neighbors call for an ambulance because their baby is ailing. Unbeknownst to them, it is not their child, but a changeling. Realizing that Vore has followed through on his planned deception, Tina goes to the guest house. Vore and his belongings are gone, but he has left a note instructing Tina to meet him on the ferry. She finds him on the deck. She explains that her compassion towards humans doesn't mean she is one herself and that trolls are capable of compassion too. She signals to the police, who close in and handcuff Vore, but he manages to escape by jumping overboard. His body is not found.

Tina's father finally tells her the truth about who she is: that he used to work as a caretaker at a psychiatric hospital where trolls were tortured and experimented on; that it was from there that he adopted Tina, whose original troll name was Reva, to raise as a human; and that her real troll parents are dead and that he knows where they are buried. Later Tina drives to the old hospital and finds her parents' graves.

A few months later, Tina finds a parcel on her porch. Inside is a troll infant and a postcard from Finland.



John Ajvide Lindqvist wrote the first draft of the screenplay, and then Abassi hired Isabella Eklöf to add more "psychological realism" to the story. Casting for the film took 18 months. To transform into the character of Tina, Eva Melander gained a considerable amount of weight and wore prosthetics that took four hours each day to apply.[6]

The port scenes were filmed at Kapellskär.


Border screened at Cannes, where it won the 2018 Un Certain Regard award,[7] Telluride, and the Toronto International Film Festival. The director Ali Abbasi holds an Iranian passport, which could have prevented him from traveling to the United States due to a travel ban, but he was granted a rare exception to attend the Telluride Festival.[8]


Box office[edit]

Border grossed $771,930 in the United States and Canada, and $1.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $2.2 million,[1] plus $110,829 with home video sales.[2]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97%, based on 130 reviews, and an average rating of 7.9/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Thrilling, unpredictable, and brilliantly acted, Border (Gräns) offers a singular treat to genre fans looking for something different."[9] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Alissa Simon of Variety described the film as "an exciting, intelligent mix of romance, Nordic noir, social realism, and supernatural horror that defies and subverts genre conventions,"[11] and Stephen Dalton of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "A couple of sharp curveball additions to Lindqvist’s original plot also elevate Border beyond genre trappings and into stranger, sadder, more generally relatable territory."[12]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards[5] 24 February 2019 Best Makeup and Hairstyling Göran Lundström and Pamela Goldammer Nominated
Cannes Film Festival[3] 8–19 May 2018 Un Certain Regard Award Ali Abbasi Won
Guldbagge Awards[13][14][15][16] 28 January 2019 Best Film Nina Bisgaard, Piodor Gustafsson and Petra Jönsson (Producers) Won
Best Director Ali Abbasi Nominated
Best Actress Eva Melander Won
Best Supporting Actor Eero Milonoff Won
Best Screenplay Ali Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf and John Ajvide Lindqvist Nominated
Best Editing Olivia Neergaard-Holm and Anders Skov Nominated
Best Sound Editing Christian Holm Won
Best Makeup and Hair Göran Lundström, Pamela Goldammer and Erica Spetzig Won
Best Visual Effects Peter Hjorth Won
Los Angeles Film Festival[17] 28 September 2018 World Fiction Award Border Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Border". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Gräns (2018) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b Lodge, Guy (18 May 2018). "Cannes: 'Border' Leads Un Certain Regard Award Winners". Variety. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  4. ^ Roxborough, Scott (28 August 2018). "Oscars: Sweden Selects 'Border' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Oscars 2019: The nominees in full". BBC News. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (10 May 2018). "Director Ali Abbasi on how Cannes title 'Border' channels "the experience of being a minority"". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Ali ABBASI - Festival de Cannes 2018". Festival de Cannes 2018. Archived from the original on 13 November 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  8. ^ Kohn, Eric (1 September 2018). "Iranian Filmmaker Is Reportedly the First From His Country to Gain Exception to Trump Travel Ban — Telluride". IndieWire. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Border (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  10. ^ "Border Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  11. ^ Simon, Alissa (11 May 2018). "Cannes Film Review: 'Border'". Variety. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  12. ^ Dalton, Stephen (10 May 2018). "'Border' ('Gräns') : Film Review - Cannes 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Nominerade 2018" (in Swedish). 10 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  14. ^ "De är nominerade till Guldbaggen 2019". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). 3 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  15. ^ Farran-Lee, Lydia (28 January 2019). "Gräns årets bästa film". SVT (in Swedish). Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  16. ^ Lundin, Caroline; Hill, Siri (28 January 2019). "Guldbaggegalan – här är alla vinnare". SVT (in Swedish). Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  17. ^ Warren, Matt (28 September 2018). "Here are the Winners of the 2018 LA Film Festival!". Film Independent. Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 15 October 2021.

External links[edit]