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Special Flight

Fernand Melgar / Switzerland / 2011 / 100 ' / French / S.T. English


Karine Sudan & Prune Jaillet
Denis Jutzeler
Gabriel Haffner
Christophe Giovannoni
Fernand Melgar, Stéphane Goël & Elise Shubs
Director Assistant: Elise Shubs

Awards & Festivals

Winner: Prix Meilleur Film Long Métrage, Festival du Film des Droits de l'Homme, Tunisia, 2012
Winner: One World Filmclubs Award, This Human World, Vienna, 2012
Winner: Grand Prix, 4ème Certamen de Cine de Viajes del Ocejón, Spain, 2012
Winner: Prix spécial du Jury, Festival Int. du cinéma des peuples, 2012
Winner: Prix Europa, Prix Iris EUROPA, Berlin, 2012
Winner: Prix Italia, Turin, Italy, 2012
Winner: Special World Feature Jury Mention, Silverdocs Documentary Festival, 2012
Winner: Amnesty International Award, Human Rights Film Festival in San Sebastian, Spain, 2012
Winner: Fedeora Critics Award for Documentaries, Crossing Europe Film Festival, Austria, 2012
Winner: Anne Dellinger Grand Jury Award, Full Frame Film Festival, Durham, USA, 2012
Winner: Best Human Rights Film Award, 14ème Festival International du Documentaire de Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2012
Winner: Quartz du meilleur documentaire suisse 2012, Prix du cinéma suisse, 2012
Winner: Grand prix du Jury, 14th One World Human Rights Film Festival, Prague, Czech Republic, 2012
Winner: Prix du Jury Lycéens et Apprentis, 10ème Festival International des Droits de l’Homme, Paris, 2012
Winner: Prix de Soleure, 47ème Journées de Soleure, 2012
Winner: Grand prix, Festival Watch Docs, Warsaw, Poland, 2012
Winner: Mention spéciale du jury du festival, Festival des Libertés, Brussels, 2012
Winner: Grand Prix du meilleur documentaire, Festival du Cinéma Francophone en Acadie, Moncton, New Brunswick, 2012
Winner: Premier prix du Jury Œcuménique & Premier prix du Jury des Jeunes, 64ème Locarno Film Festival, 2012

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

In Production

A heart wrenching and chilling observational doc about immigrant "illegals" held in a detention centre and subjected to prison-like conditions without any rights


Each year, thousands of men and women in Switzerland are imprisoned without trial or sentence. Simply because they stay in the country illegally, they may be deprived of liberty for up to eighteen months before being deported.

After The Fortress (awarded with the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival), which dealt with the reception conditions for asylum seekers in Switzerland, Fernand Melgar takes a look at the other end of the chain, i.e. at the situation towards the end of the migrants' journey. The filmmaker immersed himself for 9 months in the administrative detention centre Frambois in Geneva, one of the 28 deportation centres for the paperless in Switzerland.

Frambois accommodates rejected asylum seekers and illegal migrants. Some have been established in Switzerland for years, they started a family and they work. They pay their social insurance contributions and send their children to school. Until the day the cantonal immigration authorities arbitrarily decide to imprison them to ensure their departure. The problem is that no inmate is willing to leave the country voluntarily. Thus begins a relentless administrative procedure to force them to leave.

Behind the closed prison doors, the confrontations between staff and inmates sometimes become unbearably intense over the months. On one side there is a close-knit, motivated team of wardens full of humanist values, on the other there are men at the end of their journey, defeated by fear and stress. Relations of friendship and hate, respect and revolt, gratitude and resentment are formed, until the announcement of deportation, which prisoners often experience as a betrayal, as an ultimate stab.

This "life and death" relationship, as unfortunately evidenced by the film's most dramatic episode, ends mostly in distress and humiliation. Crushed by the law and its relentless administrative spiral, those who refuse to leave voluntarily are handcuffed, tied up, forced into wearing helmets and diapers and then forcibly put on a plane. In this extreme situation, despair has a name: special flight.


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