Created in 2017 for the performance-exhibit “The Absence of Paths” for the Tunisian pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale that addressed the status of the migrant in the world, Rejected is a series of twelve one-minute video portraits filmed at the camp of Choucha in Southern Tunisia. This camp, located near the Libyan border, was opened in 2011 during the Libyan war and accommodated up to 18,000 people, among which many refugees, or “third party nationals”, who had immigrated to Libya but couldn’t go back there nor to their country of origin, and therefore had nowhere to go. Shut down in 2013 by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the camp of Choucha continued to exist nonetheless, as a few dozen people stayed on the site, demanding the revision of their rejected asylum applications. In June 2017, they were removed by the local authorities. These twelve portraits filmed in 2013, shortly before the dismantling of the camp, almost motionless and silent, put us simply and powerfully face to face with these men, women and children fighting for survival, waiting, in this sort of heterotopia, this place outside of common reality that is a refugee camp.
Sophie Bachelier is a photographer and filmmaker, a graduate in Decorative Arts from Paris who also holds a Master’s degree in Ethnology. She is interested in how the collective history meshes with individual destinies and transforms them. Her work focuses on themes of memory, wandering, exile and their traces; it privileges the actual words, and the silences, of the people she meets over commentary. Her film “MBËKK Mi, the breath of the ocean” about illegal emigration in Senegal as seen by those wives and mothers who remain on the shore, received special mention for Best Feature-length Documentary from the Anna Politkovskaya Jury at the 30th Créteil Wom- en’s Film Festival. Her film “CHOUCHA, an unfathomable indifference” received the prize for best.