One Hundred Four:

How a sea rescue can take place is beyond imagination. The real-time documentary “One Hundred Four” (German original title: “Einhundertvier“) brings this dramatic situation closer. The film shows how agonisingly long it takes to rescue 104 people from a sinking rubber dinghy. Person by person, step by step, the action is accompanied by several parallel cameras. The situation comes to a head when the Libyan coastguard appears. The rescued people and the crew wait for days on the high seas, as no Mediterranean country allows them to dock. Only after a terrible storm does the ship reach a European harbour.

Every year, the world’s most dangerous escape route claims thousands of lives. In the first half of 2023 alone, almost 2,000 people died in the Mediterranean because the European Union‘s border policy systematically violates existing rights. Instead of helping the shipwrecked, Frontex carries out illegal pushbacks, supports the violent actions of the Libyan coastguard and massively combats private sea rescue missions that intervene where the EU fails. Despite media evidence, it remains incomprehensible to those who have not experienced this situation themselves: why are hundreds of people in mortal danger being denied help and the civilian helpers even threatened and criminalised?

Jonathan Schörnig was affected by the dilemma of lack of awareness and decided to bring a sea rescue to the screen as a real-time documentary to show how agonisingly long it takes to rescue 104 people from a sinking rubber boat. The film accompanies the action person by person, step by step, with several parallel cameras. The situation comes to a head when the Libyan coastguard turns up. The rescued people and the crew wait for days on the high seas, as no Mediterranean country allows them to dock. Only after a terrible storm does a harbour grant them entry. What sounds like a bad film script is actually the daily reality.

Chronology of the pre-history

 2019

The ship is purchased by the MISSION LIFELINE International e.V. organisation. At the time, the “Eleonore” was called the “Western Star” and had to be extensively prepared and converted for the rescue. She was originally a Dutch fishing trawler.

July 2019  

Jonathan Schörnig agrees to document the rescue in order to produce film material for public broadcasting.

02/08/2019

Jonathan Schörnig and Johannes Filous travelling to Spain as representatives of the press. The conversion work at the shipyard near Barcelona is delayed. At the same time, the “Eleonore” is registered in Germany under the German flag by Captain Claus-Peter Reisch.

07/08/2019

The “Eleonore” is launched into the water.

09/08/2019

Captain Claus-Peter Reisch flies to Spain with the registration documents. Construction work on the Eleonore continues to be delayed.

16/08/2019 The ship is named “Eleonore”.
17/08/2019

The “Eleonore” departs with a crew of 9 for the crossing and test voyage to Cagliari/Italy.

20/08/2019

Arrival in the harbour of Cagliari. Final repairs are carried out.

21/08/2019 Departure for the SAR (Search and Rescue) zone at 9.20 pm. The 9-strong Eleonore crew takes off, including the two press representatives.
24/08/2019

Reaching the SAR zone, start of the search, rescue exercise

25/08/2019

At 9.30 a.m., Clara Richter discovers an empty green inflatable boat with only one intact air chamber. No sign of a rescue could be found, so the crew assumes there are no survivors.

Emergency call via NGO “Alarmphone” of an inflatable boat. The “Eleonore” immediately initiates the search and sets course for the indicated position. The search during the night remains unsuccessful.

26/08/2019

Another distress call from a white inflatable boat is reported by “Alarmphone”. It is said to be a boat with 64 people, including 53 men and 11 women. Children were reported in another boat. The speedboat crew of the “Lifeline 3” therefore prepares to rescue children.

12:59 pm The live documentation with six cameras begins. On the way to the indicated position, the crew comes across the blue inflatable boat with 104 men

Original title: One Hundred Four

Director: Jonathan Schörnig

Cinematography: Jonathan Schörnig, Johannes Filous

Editing: no editing (real-time documentary)

Sound: Real-time audio

Cast: Crew of the rescue ship ELEONORE: Claus-Peter Reisch (captain), Martin Ernst (1st officer (RHIB driver), Thorsten Smikalla (2nd officer), Gerald Karl (3rd officer / deck manager), Clara Richter (cultural mediator / cook), Georg Albiez (ship’s doctor), Kostis Plevris (RHIB communications)

Producer: Uwe Nitschke

Co-Producer: Adrian Then

Year of production: 2023

Genre: Dokumentary

Country: Germany

Languages: English, Germany

Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese

Length: 93 Min

Rating: FSK 12 (requested)

Aspect ratio / resolution: 1,85:1 (4K: 3996×2160 / 2K:1998×1080)

DCP / Projektions-mp4: DCI 4K/2K-F Stereo (2.0) / 1080P LB185 (Letterboxed)

International title:

English: One Hundred Four

Awards:

2023 DOK Leipzig: Deutscher Wettbewerb Dokumentarfilm “Goldene Taube Langfilm” -> Einhundertvier

2023 DOK Leipzig: “Filmpreis Leipziger Ring” -> Einhundertvier

2023 DOK Leipzig: “Dokumentarfilmpreis des Goethe-Instituts” -> Einhundertvier

2023 DOK Leipzig: “ver.di Preis für Solidarität, Menschlichkeit und Fairness” -> Einhundertvier

Film label: NONFY Documentaries

Verleih: UCM.ONE

Theatrical start Germany: May 23, .2024

About the director and author Jonathan Schörnig

Jonathan Schörnig was born in Leipzig in 1991. After graduating from high school in 2011, he began gaining directing experience through several assistantships and internships in television and film.

In 2015, he successfully completed his training as a media designer for image/sound with his graduation film “Herr Lindner und sein Garten” and won the FineX trainee award. He then worked as a cameraman on various television formats and documentaries. In 2020, he achieved his first successful festival release with the short documentary “Never give up“.

Jonathan Schörnig has been studying at the Bauhaus University in Weimar since 2021.

With “One Hundred Four“, Jonathan Schörnig won the Golden Dove at the 66th International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film as well as the Goethe-Institut Documentary Film Prize, the ver.di Prize for Solidarity, Humanity and Fairness and the Leipziger Ring Film Prize.

About the author and co-producer Adrian Then

Adrian Then was born in Leipzig in 1985 and produced his first feature film as a cameraman with “Romeo and Juliet” at the age of 17. In 2009, he started his own business with AV productions and educational media projects.

After graduating with a degree in media technology engineering from HTWK Leipzig, he initially worked in live broadcasting, animation, camera and editing and has been working as a media educator at the Evangelical Church in Central Germany (EKM) since 2011.

As a freelance production manager, Adrian Then produced history and documentaries full-time for MDR in Leipzig from 2015-2020. Adrian Then temporarily worked as a production manager at the film agency and produced image and advertising films as well as the Kika series “Freundschaft Spezial“. In addition to various media projects, Adrian Then is once again working full-time for the EKM Media Centre.

Adrian Then and Jonathan Schörnig got to know each other during film projects in their youth. Since then, their paths have crossed on individual productions. With “One Hundred Four“, they made their first feature-length film together.

About producer Uwe Nitsche

Uwe Nitschke, born and raised in Leipzig, has been working as a cameraman since the mid-90s. He has been running the production company U.N TV-Produktion since 1998, which is active both nationally and internationally.

Under his direction, he has produced numerous reports, documentaries and magazine programmes for public and private broadcasters. Their content covers a wide range of social, political, scientific, environmental and sporting topics.

Focal points included the documentation of the genocide in Rwanda, the social development of Easter Island and the consequences of the reactor accident in Fukushima

Interview with director Jonathan Schörnig

“How did the film come about?”

“I was on this rescue mission as a journalist in 2019. The footage I shot was also used to make several reports for MDR and I realised afterwards that, on the one hand, I hadn’t quite finished with the topic and that the raw footage had a lot more to offer. Whenever I watched excerpts from the raw material, I realised that I myself stayed with it for a very long time and that I found the rescue operation itself exciting.

When a rescue like this is shown, it’s always heavily compressed by the editing. I thought that was the best way to show the whole thing, uncut. So that the viewer can experience and understand it. We were only able to view the material properly through the montage in tile mode and noticed in the edit how the tension is carried through the film.

I think that people who have seen the film also get a bit of a feel for what it’s like to be involved in a rescue operation like this.”

“Why did you set up and install six cameras?”

“I knew that I wouldn’t have many opportunities to adequately document all situations during the rescue. That’s why I worked with Johann’s Filous to think about where we could install cameras so that we wouldn’t miss anything. It was also important for me to document what was happening on the bridge. Johannes was in the speedboat and I stayed on board. Together with the other cameras, we had a very good overview.”

“How did you feel on board?”

“You’re part of the process the whole time and it’s difficult to be a neutral observer. For Johannes and me as journalists on board, it wasn’t easy to concentrate on the documentary.

We are part of the whole thing and we eat and sleep on the same ship, but we still have a duty of neutrality.

Because we were few crew members and only nine instead of twelve, we had to subordinate ourselves to the ship’s daily routine like everyone else.

The question that preoccupied me shortly before setting sail for the SAR zone was: What happens if someone drowns in front of me? Do I film or do I intervene and try to save them? I didn’t make a clear decision beforehand, but I had a feeling that if such a case occurred, I would intervene in the situation and leave my observer position.”

“What memories do you have of the people you rescued?”

“There were a few that have stayed with me. For example, Fahad, who became a kind of spokesman for the group and always presented us with solutions when there were problems. In general, we were very lucky with the rescued people. Although they came from different countries and didn’t know each other, they were all very disciplined and patient.

We had a day when we wanted to play different board games together that we had on board. After a few minutes, I noticed that there was a disturbance in one group and playing cards were being thrown overboard. After Gerald Karl (deck manager) calmed the situation down, we put Fahad in charge and left the deck as a crew. After a 5-minute discussion among ourselves, Fahad came to us with all the games and said that because it hadn’t worked out, they had decided that they didn’t want to play any more and handed Gerald the neatly packed games.”

“What was the mood like after the rescue?”

“Right after the rescue, everyone was very euphoric. However, the adrenalin didn’t wear off until the Libyan coastguard was no longer chasing us. First, everyone was given water and Georg Albiez (the ship’s doctor) took care of the very weak cases. The next day there was a “consultation hour” where all the rescued people came to see the doctor and injuries were documented and wounds treated.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the lifeboat we were actually looking for.”

Comments on the premiere in Leipzig

“I was expecting something completely different. But to be there for an hour and a half and see how it really happens, with such meticulousness and dedication, it’s simply amazing.”

“I am very impressed by the clarity with which the film reflects the brutal reality.”

“It was a very different style to what you usually see on TV.”

“It’s a very poignant and heavy subject, but I’m really glad to have seen the film.”

“I immediately start crying again when I think about how this young woman tirelessly and successfully calmed people down time and time again.”

Jury statements DOK Leipzig 

Golden Dove feature film: “It takes an infinitely long time to rescue 104 people from a boat sinking in the Mediterranean. We experience this rescue in real time, simultaneously on six split screens. The film team and the crew of the rescue ship clearly show us what it means to look away every day. But they also show that help is possible and necessary.”

ver.di award for solidarity, humanity and fairness: “We experience a special rescue operation – conveyed with classic documentary means that today’s technology allows. We are very close to the people in this scene in real time and are at the mercy of the natural dramaturgy.

As we know, this is only the first act of a human drama with an uncertain outcome. The film makes it possible to understand the dimensions of this everyday tragedy in the Mediterranean.”

Goethe-Institut Documentary Film Award: “One Hundred Four” meticulously documents a sea rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean. With his consistent approach of filming 90 minutes with several cameras in parallel, director Jonathan Schörnig allows us to experience the action at close quarters and thus creates a deep understanding of the urgency of the humanitarian mission. An appeal to world politics, but also to us!”

Leipzig Ring Film Prize: “For an outstanding documentary film about human rights, democracy or civic engagement, donated by the Leipzig Peaceful Revolution Foundation.”

Cinema trailer

You are currently seeing a placeholder content of Youtube. To access the actual content, click on the button below. Please note that data will be passed on to third-party providers.

Further information

News

🎬 The documentary “The Mechanics of Things” by Alessandra Celesia in selected cinemas from today

The internationally produced documentary “The Mechanics of Things” by Italian director Alessandra Celesia will be released by UCM.ONE on the NONFY Documentaries label in selected arthouse cinemas across Germany on 4 April. Synopsis: It was a minor miracle that her cat Tito survived the fall from the eighth floor, paralysed but with the will to…

Mehr lesen

🎬 “Berlin Bytch Love” (Darling Berlin) celebrated its theatrical premiere at the Krokodil cinema in Berlin

The documentary “Berlin Bytch Love” by Heiko Aufdermauer and Johannes Girke celebrated its theatrical release premiere on February 29, 2024 at the renowned Berlin arthouse cinema “Krokodil” in Prenzlauer Berg. The screening was followed by a film talk in which the filmmakers and the protagonist Sophie gave insights into the making of the film and…

Mehr lesen

🎬 The documentary film “Dreamers” (NONFY Documentaries) in German cinemas from today

The documentary film “Dreamers”, directed by Stephanie Barbey and Luc Peter, accompanies Carlos and his family, who come from Mexico and immigrated illegally to the USA, and is being released today in selected German cinemas on the NONFY Documentaries film label. Synopsis At the age of 9, he came to Chicago illegally from Mexico with…

Mehr lesen

🎬 UCM.ONE is bringing the documentary “One Hundred Four” to German cinemas and is also handling world distribution

UCM.ONE will release the real-time documentary “One Hundred Four”, which does not require editing, in German cinemas in May 2024 on the film label NONFY Documentaries. UCM.ONE is also handling the global distribution of the extraordinary documentary. The film deals with the fact that the world’s most dangerous escape route claims thousands of lives every…

Mehr lesen

🎬 The documentary “Dreamers” by Stéphanie Barbey and Luc Peter will be released in cinemas on February 8

“Dreamers” is the name given to young people without US identity papers who were brought to the USA by their parents as children – usually via the border with Mexico. It is estimated that more than two million “Dreamers” in the USA lead a life in the shadows of society. They are illegal, “undocumented”. Carlos…

Mehr lesen

🎬 “One In A Million” by Joya Thome nominated for the European Young Audiance Award 2023

The documentary film “One in a Million” by Joya Thome has been nominated for the European Young Audience Award 2023 of the European Film Awards. The nomination was announced by the European Film Academy in Berlin on 5 November 2023. In addition to “One in a Million”, the film “Longing for the World” (Switzerland, 2023)…

Mehr lesen