Since 2011, tens of thousands of refugees fleeing wars and extremely difficult economic situations in their home countries are trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the most dangerous maritime route on Earth, to reach Europe. While governments are criminalizing migratory fluxes more and more, some civilians are becoming organized by chartering boats to save the shipwrecked, hosting them on land, and filing criminal complaints against States for having failed to provide assistance to people in danger. All of these individuals, moved by determination and courage, are actively offering an alternative to general indifference. Among them, Charles Heller, a young Swiss researcher who helps create the first platform to document the refugees who disappeared-at-sea shows us that this is not a fatality. Not only is it possible to save refugees at sea, but it is also necessary today to address migrations differently. By following his, and 6 other people’s, daily fight in Europe, on land and at sea, the film attempts to bring some food for thought in light of the current tragedy.
Frédéric Choffat is a fiction and documentary director. In the last few years, he has focused a lot of his work on refugee issues. In 2013, Choffat captured the Bosnian refugee camps in Croatia through his photography. He has also directed short and full-length films such as La Vraie Vie est Ailleurs and Mangrove. Choffat also explored the theme of refugees through his theatre piece, Outrages Ordinaires, which intertwines theatre and cinema, harshly recounting the tragic destiny of refugees thrown on into roads of exile. In 2015 he shot a documentary, Terminus Brig, which is a story of a Syrian family turned away from Switzerland. This movie received the Louise Weiss Award from the Association of European Journalists in 2016. Choffat used the same approach in this film as his new documentary, Non Assistance, which follows citizen's efforts to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.