SynopsisThe deadliest refugee route in the world claims thousands of lives every year. In the first half of 2023 alone, almost 2,000 people died in the Mediterranean because the European Union’s border policy systematically violates existing laws. Instead of helping shipwrecked persons, Frontex practices illegal pushbacks, finances the violent operations of the Libyan coast guard and takes massive action against private sea rescue missions that act where the EU fails. All this has been documented in the media and yet remains incomprehensible to all who were never forced to live through this situation themselves: How can one deny assistance to hundreds of people in peril of life, even threaten and criminalise the civilian helpers?
Jonathan Schörnig was concerned with this dilemma of lack of perception and decided to bring a sea rescue to the screen as a real time documentary to show how agonisingly long it takes to rescue 104 persons from a sinking rubber boat. One by one, step by step, the film follows the action with several parallel cameras. When the Libyan coast guard turn up, the situation comes to a head. The rescued persons and the crew are stuck on the high seas for days because no Mediterranean country gives them permission to dock. It is only after a heavy storm that one port takes pity on them. What sounds like a bad script is actually – daily – reality. [66 DOK Leipzig, Luc-Carolin Ziemann]
"The film team and the crew of the rescue ship show us clearly what it means when we look the other way every day. But they also show that help is possible and needed," the 66 DOK Leipzig jury emphasised.