Fernand Melgar, director and Elise Schuss, assistant director and executive producer, represented ”Vol Spécial”, and hosted an extremely interesting session about how their strong social documentary came to life. And after-life: 1 year of editing, 160 hours of material, more than 400 articles about the film and its issue in Swiss newspapers, succesful cinema release, after some fight with authorities screenings for students in schools, in a couple of months synchronised broadcast of the film on arte and Swiss tv channels followed by debate, the set-up of a webdocumentary version, also for arte, with interviews and texts AND the couple is right now following several of those characters, who were put on a direct flight back to their homeland because of the swiss law of them being illegal workers. That is to be a sequel to ”Vol Spécial”. Respect for that work and that commitment!

”I am a witness”, said Melgar, who also called himself ”a silent collaborator”. The film crew established a strong connection of trust to both the staff and the inmates at the detention centre. They actually got the keys to what is a prison so they could go in and out as they wanted. They had to stay neutral, of course, with their observational style, which for instance meant that they knew the day before who would be taken for the special flight. An information they were not able to pass on to those who had to leave. But they knew who was to be filmed. Every day, after the shooting, the crew sent the recorded material back to the editor, who watched it and gave feedback.

Does a film like this change something? Of course a difficult question to answer but ”Vol Spécial” has raised debate and in one case, where you see a man in the film being released, the filmmakers were sure that this was because of the filming of an interview performed by a policeman. The released man is now going with the filmmakers to screenings to put even more focus on this not-only-Swiss-situation where people, who have committed no crime, but work illegally,sometimes for years, are locked up in a detention centre (the filmmakers mentioned there were 350 camps in Europe, with 40.000 detainees).

Now it’s time for some sports, says the nice sympathetic guard whenever there are emotional outbursts among the detainees…

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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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