HARRAGA - those who burn their lives

86 min, Documentary

The Moroccan boys Imad (15), Nourdine (17), Walid (18) and Hamza (17) live in a cave under the lighthouse in Melilla. Every night they break into the harbour trying to climb onto the ships leaving for the Spanish mainland. In the shadow of the rocks, they and a hundred other kids have created their own micro-society: ‘Lord of The Flies’ in reality - with their own hierarchies, chants and rules. To pass the time, they phone their mothers on video or film themselves being chased by the police. The film follows the gang of boys for 5 years. From their life in the caves to their successful escape attempts to Spain. They call themselves: Harragas -  those who burn the passports, the borders, their lives.

'The cinematic long-term portrait shines through humanity and respect. Benjamin Rost tells of young people in limbo, beautiful images of a harsh reality.'
Valeria Wagner, Programmer

‘A film that fits perfectly into the current discussion.’
BR / ARD, Kino Kino

‘This makes the film an honest visual medium that conveys the lives of a large group of Moroccan children who are forced to emigrate due to the difficult living conditions of their families and embark an adventure in which their lives can end “on fire” in the middle of the ocean waves.’
Qais Qasim, Al Jazeera

'We were truly impressed by Benjamin's adeptness in constructing a realm of contrasts. Through a breathtaking lens, we wear witness to the harrowing, at times restless, journey of young migrants attempting to reach Europe. The film evokes profound empathy within us, bridging the gap between their experiences and our own reality, which are miles apart. We are used to a generalizing, anti-migration discourse which denies the existence of individuals - the film does the opposite. '
Zurich Film Festival - Statement 

Director: Benjamin Rost
Co-Author: Hicham Bourais
Cinematographer: Jonas Schneider
Edit: Erec Brehmer
Production: Mark Szilágyi
Associate Production: Seloua El Gouni, Karim Debbagh
Music: Alexander Vicar, Swallox X, Mohammed
Sounddesign and Mixing Volker Armbruster, Timo Letzgus, Marco Schnebel
Comissionung Editor: Marcus Vetter

90 min, SWR / ARD, MfG Baden-Württemberg, MSZ Filmproduction and Consulting, Kasbah Films, developed in Cooperation with Masterschool 2019 at Documentary Campus

This project was supported by the scholarship program of the Free State of Bavaria ‘Young art and new paths’

Click here for Official Website


19. Zurich Film Festival - Focus Competition
57. Hof International Film Festival - Main Competition
39. Dok.Fest München - nominated German Documentary Film Music Award 
14. Human Rights Film Days Luzern
20. Achtung Berlin Film Festival
07. MED - Mediterranian Documentary Film Festival


65. Dok Leipzig 2020 - Pitching Prize sponsored by Sheffield Doc / Fest