Fernand Melgar, the son of Spanish unionists exiled to Tangiers, Morocco, was smuggled into Switzerland by his parents in 1963, when he was 2 years old. In the early 1980s, he cut short his business studies and co-founded Le Cabaret Orwell in Lausanne, a nightspot that became a mecca for French-speaking underground culture. Also in Lausanne, he later established the internationally renowned rock music venue La Dolce Vita.
Melgar became a self-taught freelance film director and producer, beginning with experimental films and interviews for television in 1983. In 1985 he joined the collective Climage, under whose auspices he has produced a dozen documentaries, many about immigration and identity. His documentary EXIT: The Right to Die won the prestigious 2006 EBU Golden Link Award for best European co-production and the 2006 Swiss Film Prize. In 2007, Melgar won the screenplay competition of Télévision Suisse omande (French-speaking Switzerland's main broadcaster). In 2008, his documentary The Fortress won a Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival. Melgar has edited several of Jacqueline Veuve's films, including Journal de Rivesaltes 1941-1942, awarded the 1998 Swiss Film Prize.