LA FORTERESSE

Switzerland 2008 – Director: Fernand Melgar – Original language: french – Subtitles: english

A former luxury hotel in Vallorbe is today one of five "reception homes" for asylum seekers in Switzerland. Inaccessible to the public and under strict surveillance, the building resembles a fortress. In this place fate takes its course for asylum seekers from all over the world. "We don’t know, where they come from and they don’t know where they will go", says Estrela, a member of the welfare staff. Newcomers to "The Fortress" are subject to new asylum laws, which came into force in 2006 and are among the most restrictive in Europe. Condemned to idleness, 200 men, women and children – torn between doubt and hope – are waiting for the state to decide their futures. Gently, Fernand Melgar follows asylum seekers, welfare workers, psychologists, translators and security guards in their ghastly daily routine. After several months of fighting, the director finally got unrestricted access to this enclosed universe and provides us with impressive images - without comment or interviews. A carefully composed, sensitive film with an exceptional approach.

English/Original Title: The Fortress. Camera: Camille Cottagnoud. Sound: Marc Von Sturler. Editing: Karine Sudan. Production: Association Climage. Producer: Fernand Melgar. Length: 100 min. International Sales: Accent Films International.