A film proposal by Nuno Escudeiro
Produced by Miramonte Film Italy (Andreas Pichler and Valerio Moser) and Point du Jour France (Luc Martin-Gousset)
What in life has ever kept you from doing the right thing? Standing against a framework of bureaucratic international law and justice which is too big to understand? Facing police repression? Becoming part of the game of the media companies? All these are things the inhabitants of the Roya Valley face daily.
As refugees are refused and pulled back by heavy police controls and barricades in Ventimiglia/Menton, they have no choice but to walk north, through the mountain roads and train tunnels, an arduous path to cross the infamous border of Italy and France.
Thirty kilometres north, the inhabitants of the Roya Valley receive them, surrounded by the beautiful nature of the Alps. Seeing the dismay and suffering of the refugees crossing their land, the locals took action to protect them. About one year ago, the group decided to make their actions public, considering that what they do should not be hidden but proudly shown as an act of solidarity.
“There are people dying on the side of the road. It’s not right. There are children who are not safe. It is enraging to see children at 2 in the morning completely dehydrated.” - answered Cedric Herrou, one of the members of the group, when asked: “Why do all this?”.
Nevertheless, hosting, aiding the movement or transporting undocumented immigrants might constitute a criminal offence, punishable by law. By making their actions public, the inhabitants of the valley initiated an arm-wrestle with the authorities who reinforced their presence in the Valley. As the situation progressed several media groups have put the valley under its lense, making it matter of the news all across the globe. Rather than making the situation better, it has made it worse, reinforcing the presence of the police in the valley: Car check tolls on the accesses of the valley, night raids in the villages and drones flying over its inhabitants have become awfully common. Nine people from Roya are already facing criminal charges, as they were caught by the authorities transporting undocumented immigrants or simply giving food to refugees without proper authorization.
The story of the Roya Valley is a story that stands for hundreds of people across Europe, who silently move in the name of solidarity. Between the reasons of state and the Humanitarian imperative, law and morality, their story is an example of what can be done, of how to act. This film portrays how and why they did it, and, above all the problems and consequences they confront with their actions their life.
The film focuses on individual personal stories of normal men and women who, caught in the middle of an impossible situation of great legal, political and mediatic complexity, struggle to keep a sense of morality and act through their own personal ethics to do what is right.
What does it mean to live by principle? What is the price to pay the deeper you go into that commitment and engagement? What is at stake for you, your family and friends when you take on the world to try and do what is right?