From A World to Win News Service

Film: The Messengers (Les Messagers)

January 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



5 January 2015. A World to Win News Service. "Who are these people who left and never arrived"—who left their homes and families in Africa and disappeared trying to cross into Europe? Whether murdered by the Moroccan police and buried in the sand, swallowed by the sea after their inner tubes are punctured by bullets or their canoes rammed by patrol boats, or beaten to death by the Spanish Guardia Civil as they scramble up the wire fence that separates Morocco from the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, they have been devoured by the terrifying abyss that divides the world into the lands of plenty and the lands where much of that plenty comes from. For the makers of this documentary, Helen Crouzillat and Laetitia Tura, these people are not so much migrants as messengers.

The number of those who died trying to cross that abyss is uncountable, but it is not acceptable that they be uncounted, that they remain without a name, buried in bulldozed pits in the sand or the dark, dark sea. No one, not even their closest family, knows what became of them. The filmmakers sought out their identities and their message in the now-empty shelters they built to survive in the sun, from fishermen and others who witnessed their death, and above all from survivors, who explain how they gathered and mourned—and still mourn—for fellow refugees with whom they had no language in common, whom they knew only as they ran for a train in the night and never saw clearly except for in the flash of a spotlight, whom they buried if they could, doing their best to put a name over the grave, or carried them carefully in memory.

One thing that makes the survivors' testimony so powerful is that they know and we know that they are speaking for the disappeared. "We are people who have been turned into things," one tells us. When human beings impose this kind of reign of terror on other human beings instead of allowing their talents to flourish, "this is not a world of construction—we are destroying each other." "We exist, we are young and we want to work," says another, a simple fact made piercing because many people want to ignore their existence and others are employed to bring their existence to an end.

The Guardia Civil hang up containers of water for birds as if mocking the thirsty people waiting in the desert scrub brush for their chance to leap into the abyss, the live or die moment that brought them here. The head of the Guardia explains, "No wall can stop a man who has come a thousand kilometres"—but if some are killed, that, too, is "a wall"—it tells everyone who might want to climb that wall, or swim around it, or venture across the sea that encloses Europe: this is what can happen to you. The Spanish police save some swimmers, drown some and leave many to fend for themselves after their little boats capsize. The Moroccan police who kill these migrants inland and at the shore work for Spanish interests just as the king of Morocco himself is a vassal of the French and Spanish former colonialists and European capital. These killings are rational from the point of view of the interests of the European capitalist classes: they regulate the number of migrants and eliminate the weakest to feed the grinding global system. The unacceptability of this system and its division of the world is the message these migrants are bearing.

Les Messagers, a 70-minute film in French, Arabic, English, Pulaar and Spanish (subtitled in French or English) won the best documentary award at the Verona (Italy) African Film Festival and played at 14 film festivals in Argentina, Belgium, France, Italy and Uganda in 2014. Extracts are available on It can be ordered for public screenings large and small from the distributor,

Also see the project "Je suis pas mort, je suis la" on the Website of the film's cinematographer, the photographer Laetitia Tura (


A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.


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