L'abri Switzerland 2014 – 101min.
L'Abri is about an emergency homeless shelter in Lausanne. From November to March, the ritual in front of its doors is always the same. Too many homeless people, not enough beds; people have to elbow their way in to get a spot in the warmth of the shelter. Faced with these poor people, the workers at the center have the thankless task of having to choose who gets to spend the night indoors. Their selection may insure there is calm within the walls, but it of course angers those left outside the “bunker”.
Six years after winning awards for La Forteresse, Fernand Melgar remains true to his themes of exclusion and immigration. Here again he captures human suffering, wretchedness, the lack of hygiene, poverty and hopelessness. Without becoming involved, his camera is always in the right place, alternating between arbitrary decisions on the one side and incomprehension on the other. Who decides who gets to sleep in the warmth of the indoors? Does the Swiss system actively use this program to try to make foreigners leave the country? These issues push the audience to think and try to put themselves in to the shoes of the homeless. What solutions and improvements could be found in this rich country that cannot manage its immigration?
L'Abri is a film that campaigns for human dignity as it reveals a problem whose echo has traveled across the Swiss border.