The Men in the Tree

Die letzten Tage (The Last Days)

(2018; Colour; Video; 81min)
- in German and English, with English Subtitles

A documentary about the last days of an emergency refugee center in a small town in Germany.
Moving beyond the dramatic and sensational stock images of the European refugee crisis--refugee masses huddled on European shores; angry populists marching on the streets--this is a quiet film about some of the ordinary, and fragile acts and experiences that create refuge.


In 2015-16, close to a million refugees entered Germany following Chancellor Angela Merkel's dramatic announcement 'Wir schaffen das' (We can do it!), that enabled an "open border" policy and Wilkommenskultur towards refugees fleeing wars in Syria and other parts of the world.

In small towns like St. Andreasberg, populations doubled overnight as emergency refugee centers were opened to accommodate the endless stream of refugees.

But when we began filming at the ASB (Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund) St. Andreasberg refugee center in the summer of 2016, the moment of refugee arrival with all its uncertainty, panic, and expectation had passed.

The Last Days is a film about an interminable wait for the eventual closure of the center. As ASB workers learn to pack and dismantle furniture, and trucks for "Catastrophe Management" carry away unused goods, eight German social workers share with us their memories and stories of fleeting moments spent with the refugees.

Filmed and edited using long takes of empty space, (interspersed with fast cut photo montages of time spent with refugees), Die Letzten Tage is a documentary with absurdist overtones -- a poignant reminder of a remarkable moment when open borders and new beginnings seemed a real possibility.

Produced and Directed by Lalit Vachani
Camera and Co-direction: Olli Becker
Editing and Script: Lalit Vachani
Post-Production Audio/Sound Mix: Jochen Jezussek
Color Grading/Post-production Video: Stefan Engelkamp
Additional Camera: Lalit Vachani
Additional Editing: Olli Becker
Translations: Laila Friese, Olli Becker
Co-produced by CeMIS - the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany

A Lalit Vachani/Wide Eye Film, 2018

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