Calais at Christmas

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Risa and I arrived in Calais yesterday. Conditions inside The Jungle remain brutal but spirits inside the camp are high. The abject despair I experienced during my last visit in October seems lessened. More structures have been built, thanks to a steady stream of volunteers, mainly from the UK. In the restaurants and along the muddy walkways refugees and volunteers mingle side-by-side, often with nothing to distinguish them. I can’t help wondering how different the camp would be without the volunteers. It renews faith in the goodness of humanity, a nice feeling in the days leading up to Christmas

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Risa and I are here to work with the remaining filmmakers from our project in September, CalaisSPEAKS on a short film about Calais at Christmas. Saleh and Naeem arrive at the Afghan cafe, along with our new interpreter, Mohammed. We talk a bit about the film before making our way to the Egyptian Coptic church to shoot some footage. As icy winds whip into the camp from the North Sea, which lies only meters away and is protected by nothing save a line of emaciated trees, I notice the rubbish on the ground is less conspicuous than it was last time. While talking to Saleh’s friends about a magazine they want to start up, a French man greets us from the driver seat of a beaten-up old gold Renault. Apparently he comes everyday to collect rubbish and the guys in the camp love him for it.

The photos below are taken outside and within the Egyptian Coptic church. We met the artist while we were coming in, a man from Eritrea. I particularly like the pulpit that is covered in material and set to the left of the alter/grotto. The atmosphere inside the church is incredibly calm. It was really a very special place to be.

Risa and I are here until Christmas Eve and will work with Saleh, Naeem and Mohammed until then. If anyone wants us the capture anything specific in the camp, just let me know and we’ll try our best.

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