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What have i learned in the Transit Zone

Lessons from Calais

Calais is the symbol of the current european refugee crisis. Calais is not just a refugee camp, it is a community composed by :

  • 5497 Total Residents
  • 182 Family Units
  • 205 Women
  • 651 Children of which 423 are unaccompanied.
  • 5497 different untold stories

Frederick Subei spent 3 months in the camp living with the refugees during the winter. The result is Transit Zone, an intimate and atmospheric creative documentary which goes far beyond the ordinary news report.

Transit Zone will be screened at the next DOC:Supper evening on the 13th of October , we have met with Frederik to find out more his project.

Why have you decide to shoot this documentary?

Transit Zone was my graduation film for a MA Film Directing course at Edinburgh College of Art. So that was the framework for this production and I was lucky to have had some very good teachers. But also before I made other short films about refugees and I have a strong sympathy for these people. When I started the project in late 2014 there was little talk about refugees and hardly anyone I know had heard about the 'jungle' in Calais before.

So I thought, as we in the UK are also responsible for the situation in Calais, this should be highlighted. I think it's unacceptable how people are treated in Calais and it's not in a far-away country but right at our doorstep. Also I wanted to humanise the story and tell it from the perspective of a person who is going through this ordeal rather than making it a factual, journalistic piece of work.

What have you learned from the experience?

I have certainly learned many things by making this film. About filmmaking and of course life in general. When you make an observational documentary and you follow someone for a longer period of time then the filmmaking process is taking over your own life. So it's more than making a film, it is friendship and life experiences you share. I think what made the difference is that I lived with the people there rather than visiting. Instead of looking into their world I became part of it myself.

What probably impressed me the most was the sense of solidarity among the refugees. The little they have they share which each other, especially when it comes to food. I think we as a Western society can learn a lot from that and share our wealth with others.

What is the future of Calais in your opinion?

The future in Calais doesn't look very bright at the moment. The French government wants to close down the jungle by the end of this year. While some people are promised to be offered housing, many will be left without any infrastructure or support.

The French and UK government should learn from their mistakes, there have been refugees in Calais since about 15 years and they will continue to come as long as there is no legal route offered by the UK government to enter the country. Building new fences is certainly not a solution.

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