Directed by Moritz Siebert, Estephan Wagner and Abou Bakar Sidbe
2nd May 2017
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
This documentary is about the attempts of sub-Saharan young men to scale the wall separating Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
The idea for it was conceived when film-makers Moritz Siebert and Estephan Wagner met a Malian emigrant, Abou Bakar Sidbe – who had been based there for over a year – and presented him with a camera to record his experiences of being in the makeshift camp on the top of Mount Gurugu.
Not accustomed to using a camera his early efforts are erratic. But as time passes he gains an understanding of framing shots and, as he himself stated, it gave him a means of asserting his own individuality.
“I feel I exist when I film,” remarked Sidbe, and made the telling comment that anonymous refugees have names, stories and dreams.
Siebert and Wagner gave him money in order that he did not sell the camera for food, etc.
Many hundreds of migrants on Mount Gurugu put their lives at risk on an almost daily basis in attempting, and sometimes succeeding, in scaling fortified fences with razor wire that were built to stop migrants entering Melilla, as well as the heavy-handed approach of the Spanish and Moroccan police. The latter regularly burn the improvised shelters where the migrants congregate.
The most vivid and eerie parts of the film though were not filmed by Sidbe. but those recorded from official police CCTV cameras (some of them filmed in infrared), giving an extra dimension to the sight of seemingly ant-like creatures trying to ascend and descend barriers.