Migrant Labour

(El Ejido – La Loi du Profit)

Jawad Rhalib
Belgium 2006 | 80 Min. | DigiBeta, OmeU
As far as the eye can see: A sea of white plas­tic stretch­es for kilo­me­ters up and down the Andalu­sian coast of the Mediter­ranean. Beneath the white-hot roofs of these … read more

FROM SOMEWHERE TO NOWHERE – Migrant Workers in China

Villi Hermann
Switzerland 2008 | 86 Min. | DigiBeta, OmeU
Some 150 mil­lion Chi­nese jour­ney through their coun­try as migrant work­ers. By and large, it is they who have car­ried China’s eco­nom­ic boom since the 1980s. They labor cease­less­ly at … read more


Gonzalo Ballester
Morocco 2006 | 11 Min. | miniDV, OmeU
“Ille­gal” immi­gra­tion is not only a prob­lem for our soci­ety. Not only does the immi­grant suffer from social uproot­ing but also the most dif­fi­cult part of this sit­u­a­tion: the family … read more


Olivier Dury
France 2008 | 46 Min. | 35 mm, OmeU

One image, in par­tic­u­lar, is likely to haunt view­ers: that of many men hud­dled togeth­er on the back of a truck. The men are headed north­ward, from Niger to the coast of Alge­ria. Just how long they will be trav­el­ling depends on count­less unknowns. And once they’ve reached the African coast of the Mediter­ranean, they’ll still be far from their goal, for it is only then that their dan­ger­ous attempt to cross the sea to Europe begins. Theirs is a jour­ney in hopes of a better life – one that fre­quent­ly ends in death. 

What sets MIRAGES – the first mid-length doc­u­men­tary by French direc­tor Olivi­er Dury – apart from other films, is the fact that the film­mak­er avoids por­tray­ing a simple tale of suf­fer­ing meant to inspire sym­pa­thy on the part of West­ern audi­ences. Dury squeezes him­self and his camera onto one of three depart­ing trucks, and he resists the temp­ta­tion to seek out only spec­tac­u­lar imagery: He gazes out the wind­shield at the land­scape and the tracks left behind in the sand; he watch­es as the driver changes a tire. We encounter three ani­mals in the course of this won­der­ful­ly pho­tographed film: a frog, a snake, and a beetle, which, caught on its back, kicks at the air. At night, the men build a camp­fire from dry branch­es to com­fort them from the cold of the Sahara. Dury doc­u­ments the every­day real­i­ty that comes before the famil­iar TV images of strand­ed, dead, or deport­ed refugees. 

From start to finish, the film barely fea­tures any dia­logue. It simply isn’t nec­es­sary. For the sto­ries of these men, who, at the start of the film, limit their words to a brief state­ment about their place of origin – Guinea, Sene­gal, Ghana – are not omit­ted because they are insignif­i­cant or inter­change­able. Rather, the men have no need to explain them­selves, since, at least in this part of the world, their indi­vid­ual sto­ries are gen­er­al­ly accept­ed and seen as valid. At the Libyan border, approx­i­mate­ly 300 kilo­me­ters away from their final des­ti­na­tion, Dury leaves the convoy and goes his sep­a­rate way. Wrapped in blan­kets to pro­tect them­selves from sand and wind, the men wave good­bye to the film­mak­er. In the time it takes to catch a final, close-up glimpse of each of the men’s faces, the desert sand has once more swal­lowed up their tracks. (Michael Pekler) 

(Xi Wang Zhi Lu )

Ning Ying
China 2001 | 55 Min. | BetaSP, OmeU
Every year during August and Sep­tem­ber, sev­er­al thou­sand agri­cul­tur­al work­ers travel more than 1800 miles across China, from Szech­wan to the Xin­jiang Autonomous Region. There, end­less cotton fields await the … read more