In April 2013, six young students from Geneva – aged between 17 and 19 years old – took part in the second project launched by the association “Façonneurs de mémoire”, led by a Geneva-based teacher and a film-maker. Their objective was to produce a film based on the personal accounts of individuals who have been witnesses to major events in history. Claudio Recupero, the teacher and historian who initiated the project, created the association together with the film-maker Elena Hazanov in 2010. The idea was to come up with a new way of inspiring young people, and not quite so young, to take an interest in history and documentary film-making.
What makes this project so special is the fact that the young students are involved in every step of the film’s production - from the script to the journalist, and from the sound manager to the head of logistics. “We start by teaching them about the historical context of the subject and then move on to look at the history of cinema, filming and techniques,” explains Claudio Recupero. As well as helping to produce the feature-length film, the young people also appear on the other side of the camera. “Professionals film the students as they prepare the documentary. This gives us two different angles, a kind of mise en abyme,” adds the teacher. The students are guided through the process, but there is no question of holding them by the hand. “It’s not easy. They are a world apart from the people they are talking to. They need to know what questions to ask, how to ask them, how far to go, and the limits they must not exceed. But we don’t systematically correct them. We leave a few slips and hesitations in the edit. It’s all part of the project.”
Still in production, the documentary being made by the students looks at the life of Ong Thong Hoeung, a victim of the Khmer Rouge regime. For the last few months, they have been exploring the memories gathered by this Cambodian man during his amazing life, following meetings in Paris and Brussels. More recently, the team spent two weeks in Cambodia shooting the final, and most crucial, part of the film.
The filming crew took a Medical Family Office (MFO) suitcase along with them on their trip to this tropical country. As Claudio Recupero explains: “Although most of the filming took place in Phnom Penh where there are no real sanitary issues in the event of any problem, our itinerary included two days traveling in remote provinces. Our MFO suitcase gave us great peace of mind. In particular, in view of the fact that we were traveling with the main character from our film – Ong Thong Hoeung – and his wife. Not forgetting that you work far more efficiently if you have the reassurance of knowing that almost everything you need is within easy reach, even a Swiss doctor on call around the clock!”
The team are now back from the shoot and working on post-production of the film (editing, sound track, etc.).
Every year, the Jan & Oscar Foundation organises a humanitarian trip involving young people from French-speaking Switzerland. The objective of the trip is to help build a school for ethnic minorities in the north of Thailand. The villages we visit are located far from civilisation, and consequently from any medical centre. The safety of our young volunteers is paramount and always at the forefront of our concerns.
When Dr Dussoix offered his services and the MFO emergency medical suitcase for this year’s humanitarian trip, I accepted immediately. Being able to give our young volunteers and their parents the guarantee of remote medical care and access to a full set of emergency medical supplies contributes greatly to ensuring the safety of participants on the humanitarian trip.
The focus of our trip is helping civil engineering students, volunteers like us, to build a small school. Injuries and insect stings are by no means uncommon during our work. We used the drugs provided in the MFO suitcase on several occasions, to treat members of our own group and some Thai students. We had to call Dr Dussoix to ask his advice about a nasty, painful sting that resulted in a rather large local oedema. We were able to make contact immediately, despite our very poor telephone network, and received advice to help us treat our injured helper.
The Jan & Oscar Foundation is very lucky to be able to count on MFO's professional skills and we are very grateful for this amazing partnership.
taking no chances with emergencies