|Photography:||Camille Cottagnoud, Stefan Bossert|
|Production:||Climage - Lausanne|
|Associate Producers:||Les Productions JMH, Neuchâtel, Télévision Suisse Romande TSR, Télévision Suisse Italienne TSI, SRG SSR|
|International Sales: |
Climage - Lausanne, Les Productions JMH - Neuchâtel
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76' / 2005 / Switzerland
No one knows the day or the hour. When illness strikes, accompanied by pain and physical decline, there we are, faced with death. The outlook on what remains of life appears dismal and full of anguish. How to spare oneself, and one’s closest family, painful agony? Switzerland is the only country in the world where associations, such as EXIT, quite legally provide suicide assistance to people at the end of their lives. For over twenty years volunteers have accompanied sick and handicapped people towards a death of their choice that seems more dignified to them.
In this documentary, these escorts and the people they accompany tackle death head-on. Not like a taboo or an unacceptable end, but like a release. In a society tending to control everything, they refer us back to this quintessential, intimate question: Is choosing our death not our ultimate freedom?
With their words and gestures, their convictions and their doubts, they talk about the path they have travelled.
Eurodoc, Oslo – Special Jury Mention
Swiss Film Prize – Best Documentary Film
Pathé Film Critics’ Prize
International Francophone Film Festival, Namur – Special Jury Mention
Full Frame Festival, USA – Honorable Mention
EBU Award – Best European Co-production
Fernand Melgar was born into a family of Spanish unionists exiled to Tangiers (Morocco). His parents smuggled him in with them when, in 1963, they emigrated to Switzerland as seasonal Labourers. In the early eighties, he cut short his business studies in order to found, together with several friends, the Cabaret Orwell in Lausanne, soon a mecca for French-speaking Switzerland’s underground culture; later, he created the internationally renowned rock music venue La Dolce Vita, also in Lausanne. After endowing the latter night spot with a programme of creative video projections, he became a self-taught, freelance film director and producer. In 1983, he began putting together various experimental films and iconoclastic reportages for television. In 1985 he joined Climage*, a collective to which he belongs to this day, and with whom he produced around a dozen documentaries, now considered as benchmarks on the topics of immigration and identity. His documentary Exit –The Right to Die has garnered several international awards, including the prestigious 2006 EBU Golden Link Award for the Best European Co-Production, and the 2006 Swiss Film Prize. Winner of the screenplay competition launched by Télévision Suisse Romande (French-speaking Switzerland’s broadcasting centre) in 2007, Melgar is currently working on his first fiction feature film, Far Behind the Mountain. He lives and works in Lausanne.
*Created in 1985, Climage groups together several individualists who have similar ideas on independent and engaged filmmaking. Today, Climage has become one of Frenchspeaking Switzerland’s most prolific producers of documentaries.
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