DOK Leipzig 2011 – Special Flight

This is where our civilisation has brought us! Is my first thought after this heartbreaking documentation from a rich country in the middle of Europe, Switzerland. A documentary that without doubt will get award(s) at the DOK Leipzig. Deservedly. It could have been made in other countries including the one I come from, Denmark. Location: A centre for people who have been refused to stay in the country. Story: ”They” wait to be sent out of the country back home. That is to say ”home”, as expresses the man from Kosovo in the beginning of the film. He has been in Switzerland for 20 years, his wife and child are hidden in the country, somewhere, illegally. Home, where is that?

The film is one of those intimate institutional stories where the camera has unique access to the characters and those who work there – the staff that very often gets pretty close to the residents, as they are called – ”inmates” is not a nice word, even if this is what it is, a prison where doors are carefully locked and police handcuffs people when they are transported to the Special Flight that are to take them away. ”We are objects for them”, says one of those who wait, and more precisely it can not be said. Even if the staff is kind and understanding with hugs and verbal encouragement.

There are moving situations, where families come to visit – a little boy has not eaten for days because he does not know why his father is not at home. Another father writes a letter to his children, he does not want them to know where he is and that he is to be sent away. And there sequences where anger comes to you, like in the end where an incident is disclosed. A man died because of the brutal police treatment he got when he was brought to the airplane.

Shocking visualisation of how we treat ”the other”, so well made, balanced in rythm, giving information and opening for the creation of an emotional contact.

Fernand Melgar, Switzerland, 2011, 99 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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