30 APRIL / 11 MAY


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The Fortress
Director:Fernand Melgar
Screenplay: Fernand Melgar, Claude Muret
Photography: Camille Cottagnoud
Sdition: Karine Sudan
Sound: Marc Von Stürler
Production: Climage - Lausanne
Associate Producers: Télévision Suisse Romande TSR, Télévision Suisse Italienne TSI, SSR SRG, ARTE


Thursday 1st - 17:00
documentamadridCINETECA - SALA AZCONA

Poster La Forteresse

International Sales:
Climage - Lausanne
Association Climage
Rue du Maupas 8
CH-1004 Lausanne Suisse
tél ++41 21 648 35 61
fax ++41 21 646 27 87

La Forteresse (The Fortress)

Fernand Melgar
104' / 2008 / Switzerland
Web: www.laforteresse.ch
Spanish subtitled

For the first time, a camera unrestrictedly penetrates into the universe of a Swiss reception centre for asylum seekers. It presents a human gaze at an austere transition place, where 200 men, women and children, torn between doubt and hope, are awaiting the state's decision on their behalf. Empathy and distrust punctuate the exchanges between the residents and the staff of the centre in charge of applying the most restrictive asylum law in Europe. With emotion, though also with humour, LA FORTERESSE (THE FORTRESS) immerses us into the heart of this daily sorting process of human beings.

Main Festivals & Awards

Swiss Film Prize “Quartz 2009” – Nomination Best Documentary Film
Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival – Award of Excellence
Bafici – Human Rights Competition, Jury Special Mention
Locarno – Swiss Movie Pearls (one of the five best movies)
Fünf Seen Filmfestival – Horizonte Price

Locarno – Golden Leopard
Cinema Verite Iran International Documentary Film Festival – Grand Prix
Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal – Camera-Stylo Award and Jury Special Mention for editing (Karine Sudan)
Festival dei Popoli – Audience Award and Special Mention

Director's Biography

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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