“You wouldn’t feel we were in Europe at all, there
are so many different cultures, you feel like you’re
in a different country completely.”
- Felix & Curtis, Help Refugees Tent Builders
On the road to relief
For thousands of refugees and those seeking asylum, the Calais Jungle Migrant Camp was a shelter and a haven. At its peak, there were 10,000 residents of the Jungle and at least 1,000 of which were unaccompanied children. However, the life-sustaining relief was not provided by NGO’s but a network of tenacious individuals, determined to pick up where the officials left off. Caught between the increasing demands of a growing camp and the regular police raids, this documentary reveals the chains of relief networks that entirely sustained the residents of the Calais Jungle over 8 months leading up to its demolition.
Synopsis from the director
The Calais Jungle migrant camp was a place of refuge for those constantly flowing throughout the continent. At its peak there were 10,000 residents, including 1,000 unaccompanied children. However, this was no sanctuary as the growing population was met with interventions and raids by the region’s police and security organisations. Daily life in the Jungle was a challenge. Without any NGO’s providing relief or support, it was down to a team of volunteers to respond to the demand for aid. Gradually, networks of aid workers were established and expanded until it was the main source of relief for the residents of the camp.
On the Road to Relief observes this volunteer movement that sustained the Calais Jungle: individuals who are not paid, but chose to dedicate their lives to responding to humanitarian disaster. This documentary follows these groups over the final 8 months of the camp, leading up to the demolition on 24 October, 2016. The film follows the daily routines of these individuals, starting in the warehouses where all aid is coordinated. Here, Volunteer and Distribution Manager Hettie highlights the motives of the charity and the severity of their duties. Acting as a focal point of the ongoing events in Calais, Hettie accounts the recent history of the Jungle. Harrowing events such as camp-wide fires, evictions, police raids and protests are all visualised through archive material filmed by residents’ volunteers of the camp.
The constantly changing politics and regulations of the region are represented with an ongoing court case throughout the film, where authorities attempted to close shops run by refugees. In the jungle there were dozens of shops and businesses operated by refugees, which were a lifeline to camp residents by offering free food and shelter to hundreds who charities could not reach. The residents of the camp are represented by Awesome, a Pakistani shopkeeper who gives first hand accounts of police raids against the refugee high street. Revealing the history and complex events of the Calais Jungle from March to October 2016, On the Road to Relief offers a window into a space that now symbolises the ongoing Migrant Crisis, even beyond its physical demolition.
Watch the trailer
Director and Editor: Jake Martin Graves | Producer: Sophie-Anna Taylor | Production Assistant: Andrew C Neil | Director of Photography: Daniel Griffin | Casting and Production Coordinator: Tamzin Wood | Transcribers: Claire Stevens, Danielle Porter, Leon Nichols, Dan Griffin, Mia Garfield, Frankie Hirtenstein, Jonathan Sanders, Shana King | Sound Design (Post): Claire Stevens | Graphic Design: Fiona Routledge, Mayne Design | Illustration: Hannah ‘Lu’ French
Archive: donated by Rowan Farrel and the Refugee Info Bus,
Drone Press, Jane Jackson, and Zafar.
Music: kindly provided by The Calais Sessions.