In his documentary entitled La Fortresse (Movies that Matter Festival 2009), director Fernand Melgar painted a portrait of life in a Swiss asylum-seekers centre, where two hundred men, women and children live while they wait for their residence permit. Only 1 per cent of applicants receive a permanent residence permit; the rest have to leave sooner or later. Where Melgar’s La Fortresse depicts the start of what will become a long, drawn-out procedure for many, his Special Flight shows the end of the road. The ‘detainees’ in Frambois are held without conviction or due process of law. This is where relationships founded on friendship, respect, hate and disgust are formed – until they receive word of who will be deported immediately. The official verdict comes as a stab in the back to many. Anyone who refuses to board the plane voluntarily is bound and blindfolded and forced onto a ‘special flight’.
Like his previous film, Melgar’s Special Flight demonstrates his skill as a masterful and meticulous observer. Accusatory fingers or tear-jerker scenes to create emotional appeal won’t be found here – and yet his films mercilessly expose the weaknesses in a system lacking all compassion.