During World War II, the family of Markus Imhoof, aged 4 at the time, took in the 8-year-old Giovanna, a malnourished Italian girl, as part of a programme organised by the Red Cross. As the little refugee had to return to Italy after the war ended, the Imhoof family organised her second visit in 1949, only to find the girl being sent back by the Swiss government once more. Soon after her return to Italy, Giovanna died. She was 13 years old.
The story from Imhoof’s childhood provides inspiration for a view of the refugee crisis today. The filmmaker boards the ships used as part of Operation Mare Nostrum, visits refugee camps in southern Italy, and witnesses asylum hearings with the Swiss authorities – all these part of a process to send refugees back where they came from. Eldorado gives a stark picture of the ruthless treatment that remains insensitive to human tragedy: a crisis caused by economic imbalances, which turned the rich countries of the North into an El Dorado for those less fortunate to try and reach at all costs.