Los burgueses de Calais, la última frontera, by Spanish director Jesús Armesto – winner of the SAMIFO prize at the 11th Mental Health Film Festival “Lo Spiraglio” – is an intense and poetic documentary about the condition of migrants stuck in transit at the mouth of the Eurotunnel. These people are confined, as if in limbo, in the so-called “jungle,” near Calais, in Northern France.
The title refers to the sculpture by the famous artist Auguste Rodin, in homage to the six burghers of Calais who, in 1347, during the 100 Years War, offered themselves as hostages to the English king after a dramatic siege. But Rodin, like Armesto, does not just dwell on the historical event, but rather explores the feelings, the anguish of the characters, manifested above all by the nervous hands and the contracted faces that express the strong tension.
It is a cinematographic work that resembles a seesaw: faces and landscapes alternate. The stillness of the silent landscapes is interrupted by close ups of bleak faces of the different people (the photographer, the lawyer, the psychoanalyst), who denounce the circumstances of those who enter the migration vortex. It is their faces that denounce: faces in the foreground, reflecting their opposition to the violence that dehumanizes the men, women and children who leave their country to find a better life elsewhere.