Illégal (Illegal) by Olivier Masset-Depasse

Illégal (Illegal) by Olivier Masset-Depasse

Olivier Masset-Depasse became interested in detention centres for illegal immigrants and the plight of those who live there after a television programme made him realize that there was such a centre just 15 kilometers from his house.
He started a year-long investigation with a journalist from the Belgian daily newspaper Le Soirand a lawyer from the Belgian Human Rights League. He also visited one of these centers on several occasions to get an accurate picture. His findings led him to make this film.
 
His motive was to raise people’s awareness. His main character is Tania, a 39-year-old Russian woman. She has been living illegally in Belgium for some ten years with her 14 year old son. Although the authorities refused her application for asylum, she manages to find a job and send her son to school. She lives in constant fear of the authorities. One day, a police check leads to her arrest. They place her in a detention center while her young son manages to escape and takes refuge at a friend’s home. And so she begins her fight for her dignity and her right to stay in Belgium.
How much can people seeking asylum endure? How can the rights of the individual be balanced against those of the state? Are the guards victims of the system? How can asylum requests better take people’s individual stories into account?
 
Synopsis and trailer of Illégal
Interview with Olivier Masset-Depasse by Cineuropa