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In Limbo: Sailors Stranded Ashore

While working on a TV documentary on the welfare of sailors in the spring of 2000, Franco-American film director Roy Lekus unexpectedly becomes a witness of a drama. While sailing under the Latvian flag an old rust-bucket called Victor, sank during a storm in the Bay of Biscay. Towed into the port of Brest by a French rescue vessel, the ship and its crew waited in vain for the ship owner to show up. The owner first refused to pay for the repair work and then disappeared altogether, leaving the crew unpaid and without any means of sustenance. Focusing on the dramatic stories of two ships, Victor and Olga, that never made it back to their home ports in Latvia and Greece, this documentary investigates the mistreatment and abuse of crews in maritime transportation. It yields a picture of cynical indifference on the part of rogue ship owners who flout the basic human rights of crews and of the legal impotence on the part of national and international authorities. Six years late the film director tracks down the crew members of the Victor in their native country of Latvia. Did their abandonment in Brest have any lasting impact on their lives? What did their families have to go through during those four months of uncertainty and anguish?

Roy Lekus

He was born in New York, since the 70s he has lived and worked in France. He studied at the Cinémathèque Française in Paris and did his doctoral studies with Jean Rouch, who is considered to be one of the founders of the cinéma vérité in France. In the 80s he developed a personal style of documentary, mixing dramatization, archives and animation. He began working for television in the 90s (working for such television stations as Arte, France 3, France 5, ORF in Austria, RTBF in Belgium, and YLE), and for producers such as Les Films d’Ici and Bonne Pioche. Roy Lekus has taught directing at the University of Paris I Sorbonne, the University of Caen in Normandy, INA, the National Audiovisual Institute, and at French private film schools. In Africa, he’s taught directing in Zimbabwe and Cameroon. In 2005 he founded Private Joke Productions.

Selected Filmography

Tremble, Tyrants (2006)
The Sobbing of Autumn's Pumpkins (2005)
Ariadne's New Thread (2004)
Dialog on Ethics (2003)
Brigitte Goes to Work (1997)
Destino crudele (1984)


Director: Roy Lekus
Scriptwriters: Roy Lekus, James Smith
Cinematography: Marc Toulin, Roy Lekus
Music: Xavier Bussy
Sound: Robin Aramburu, Matthew Egerman
Mix: Henri Puizillout
Film Editing: Monique Dartonne
Producers: Elisabeth Perez, Uldis Cekulis, Valdis Abols
Production: Vides Filmu Studija, Private Joke Productions
Latvia, France, 2010, 52 min.