Special Flight

Fernand Melgar

Documentary from the country that has the strictest immigration laws in Europe. The air in the Frambois administrative detention centre near Geneva is fraught with tension. Asylum-seekers who have exhausted all their options wait for deportation, side by side with illegal immigrants. Without any due process, they sit in indefinite detention, sometimes for as long as two years. Their despair has a name: special flight.

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.


Fernand Melgar
Country of production
140 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Association Climage
World Sales
Association Climage