The fierce competition between platforms for content from around the globe has made Filmin a benchmark when it comes to foreign and non-US series. A good example of his active search for fictions in all corners of the planet, especially in Europe, is ‘Célula de crisis’, a political thriller that airs the dirty laundry of humanitarian organizations in public.
This Swiss-based co-production is set in Geneva, the world’s most important center of global governance as the headquarters for hundreds of NGOs and international organizations. And the action begins when the president of the International Humanitarian High Commissioner (ACIH), a fictitious body reminiscent of the United Nations office dedicated to the promotion of human rights, is assassinated in Yemen. The attack leads the organization to rethink its intervention in the Arab country, one of the poorest in the world, as the search begins to find a replacement for the recently murdered high commissioner. Then, everybody’s first choice for the position, veteran Guillaume Kessel (André Dussollier), suddenly resigns for personal reasons surrounded in bizarre circumstances: his young and attractive wife has disappeared.
Determined to change the course of the powerful NGO and prevent the election of the candidate better positioned insofar as he has the strongest business ties most connected to the business sphere from being elected, Kessel offers the presidency of the International Humanitarian High Commissioner to Suzanne Fontana (Isabelle Caillat). Well-known in academic circles for her brilliant essays, the university professor captures Kessel’s attention after appearing in the media openly criticizing his work. “The problem is that these organizations are led by a caste of white elders who claim to have a monopoly on humanitarian values”, affirms this idealist with unwavering convictions, while recommending that they break with structures of power and innovate in their intervention mechanisms.
“From the very get-go, ‘Célula de crisis’ arouses audience interest given the unusual nature of the subject matter in hand: the dark underbelly of humanitarian aid, international diplomacy and global geopolitics”
Fontana’s verbiage and his master classes serve to showcase his positions, but a series of unexpected events – including the inexplicable intervention of her partner to discredit her before the ACIH and the kidnapping of several aid workers – press her to apply for the position, all this while attempting to help a victim of gender-based violence, at the same time as a young Saudi prince aspires to preside over an organization one might be excused for confusing with the International Football Federation (FIFA), corruption and bribery included.
From the very get-go, ‘Célula de crisis’ arouses audience interest given the unusual nature of the subject matter in hand: the dark underbelly of humanitarian aid, international diplomacy and global geopolitics. Issues it tackles bravely, although sometimes the personal stories of the characters can somewhat obscure its noble intentions. “Humanitarianism is, above all, a question of image. When we talk about human rights and dialogue between nations, what they are actually referring to looking after one’s own honor and interest”, defends series director, Switzerland’s Jacob Berger, clearly summarizing his position.
Without being too categorical, the transgressions of ‘Célula de crisis’ are mostly that it shows its hand too plainly. Although our lead character, Suzanne, will soon begin to comprehend that acting freely and independently isn’t as easy as she once used to pontificate, as she’s forced to grapple with her own moral limits, weaving alliances to ensure the safe return of hostages. Political negotiations, international organizations and diplomatic interests in a particularly turbulent geopolitical context are the greatest attractions of ‘Célula de crisis’, six, fifty-minute episodes you’ll be binging in a weekend.