La Forteresse

Fernand Melgar

Fernand Melgar’s La Forteresse, the fortress, provides a vivacious yet well-considered impression of the problems faced by inhabitants and employees of an asylum seekers’ centre in Vallorbe, Switzerland. 24-hour cameras monitor refugees in an area separated from the outside world
by barbed wire. A camera crew is granted entry for the first time, resulting in an unprecedented and fascinating documentary.
Switzerland exercises one of the most restrictive refugee immigration policies of Europe. Only one percent of all applicants receive a permanent residence permit. Despite this fact, the affluent country still has immense appeal for those who, for whatever reason, leave their country of birth. For the first time, a camera crew is granted access to a Swiss asylum centre in Vallorbe. Two hundred men, women, and children live in the centre, swinging between hope and
despair whilst awaiting a decision on their application from the Swiss government. Refugees are surveyed 24 hours a day by security cameras, living in an area separated from the
outside world by barbed wire. Film maker Fernand Melgar’s La Forteresse, the fortress, provides a vivacious yet wellconsidered impression of the problems faced by inhabitants
and employees of the asylum seekers. What are the refugees’ stories? And how credible are they?


Fernand Melgar
Stéphane Goël
Country of production
100 minutes
Spoken language
English, French, Serbian, Spanish
Production company
Association Climage