Coming to theatres this Friday, October 21: FIRE AT SEA
Gianfranco Rosi’s meditation on the European refugee crisis made its debut at Berlin, where it became the first documentary ever to win the Golden Bear. Its extensive festival circuit has also included Toronto, Telluride, New York, DocAviv, Sydney, Melbourne, It’s All True, Moscow, Karlovy Vary, New Zealand, Reykjavik, and the upcoming DOC NYC, where it appears on the Short List.
Set on the Italian island of Lampedusa, already the subject of other films about refugees given its proximal location to North Africa, Rosi’s observational project captures the activities of residents and newcomers alike, though focuses his camera primarily on Samuele, a twelve-year-old Italian boy who spends his days exploring, constructing a slingshot, and playing with a friend. In contrast to his seemingly idyllic existence, there are reminders of the unfolding humanitarian tragedy all around, with footage of search and rescue operations, radio reports of refugee arrivals, and the warnings of the local doctor who tends to the most urgent health emergencies. Somehow able to convey an urgency through a build up of mostly quiet images, Rosi’s film demonstrates the indelible mark the crisis is leaving in this microcosm, even if Lampedusa is only a temporary stop on the refugees’ way to larger Sicily.