Special Flight (Vol spécial)
Fernand Melgar’s intimate and emotionally charged portrait of the rejected asylum seekers and illegal migrants in Switzerland’s Frambois detention centre reveals a world that few know from the inside. With amazing access to his subjects, Melgar introduces us to a community of men who share friendships, fears, and a similar fate. There are three possibilities for every resident: to leave free with asylum granted, to leave the country by choice on a regular flight, or to leave in custody on a so-called ‘special flight’ back to their country of origin. As planes come and go in the background, the staff—who are caretakers, counsellors, and friends to the men there—¬have heart-felt dialogues about the well-being of residents. In the end though, the staff reflect society’s attitudes towards migrants, and are also recipients of the residents’ resentment—making them simultaneously friend and foe. And that fact is most evident when staff must prepare one of the men to leave on a special flight.
Human Rights Watch has documented conditions for migrants and asylum seekers in Europe that are far harsher than those depicted in the film. Human Rights Watch has issued several reports in recent years regarding inhuman and degrading detention conditions in Greece and issued a report on migration detention centres in Ukraine that documented the use of torture against detained migrants. These reports also found that neither Greece nor Ukraine had a functional asylum system. Human Rights Watch continues to advocate for improvement in detention conditions and asylum reforms in Europe.