Album de famille
CH 1993 54'
First of all, ALBUM DE FAMILLE is a letter addressed by Fernand Melgar to his parents, Florinda and Fernando, who immigrated to Switzerland at the end of the sixties. It is also addressed to a whole generation that came to work for several decades to compensate for the severe shortage of labour. And lastly it is intended for this Switzerland, “land of exile and of welcome”, which at the time eagerly welcomed great numbers of foreigners. ALBUM DE FAMILLE thus ceaselessly shifts from the private to the collective, from the individual to the universal... Cleverly superimposing personal photographs, newsreels and images from past and present, chapter by chapter the film recounts the stages of a painful journey. The arrival and the loneliness, “I could buy everything except cheerfulness”; the disdain, “People didn’t even greet us, we were inferior beings”; putting the children through school, “As long as you spoke only Spanish they spat on you”; the Schwarzenbach initiative, “Even though he didn’t win, he wounded the hearts of all the foreigners”; the gradual change in mentality, “We became materialistic”; and lastly the return to the mother country. The result is plain to see, “a lost smile” for the mother, “27 years of emptiness” for the father.
Through this letter, it is also Fernand Melgar’s parents who talk to us, whether or not we knew any of these “segundos” in search of memories and of an identity. They appeal to our conscience and our history, asking us, still today, “How do you welcome the foreigner, this brother in humanity, come in search of bread and work?”
Visions du Réel