For nearly two years of exploring the "Great Ring Road's" almost 70km of looping highway, Gianfranco Rosi brings to the foreground the daily routine of ordinary people, composing the profile of a microcosm on the outskirts of Great Rome.
Set on a remote Pacific island, covered in rain forest and dominated by an active volcano, this heartfelt story, enacted by the Yakel tribe, tells of a sister's loyalty, a forbidden love affair and the pact between the old ways and the new.
Situated some 200km off Italy's southern coast, Lampedusa has hit world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe. Rosi spent months living on the Mediterranean island, capturing its history, culture and the current everyday reality of its 6,000-strong local population as hundreds of migrants land on its shores on a weekly basis. The resulting documentary focuses on 12-year-old Samuele, a local boy who loves to hunt with his slingshot and spend time on land even though he hails from a culture steeped in the sea.
Director Gianfranco Rosi did his own cinematography again, but used for the first time an ARRI Amira camera, which he said allowed him to shoot in dark environments: "Sometimes it looked like we had an incredible amount of light. Technology helped me a lot on this film. Being able to work with this tiny camera by myself was an incredible tool."  See more »
This is my testimony... We could no longer stay in Nigeria. Many were dying. Most were bombed... We flee from Nigeria. We ran to the desert. We went Sahara Desert and many died... Raping and killing many people, and we could not stay. We flee to Libya. And Libya was a city of ISIS. And Libya was a place not to stay. We cried on our knees, 'What shall we do?' The mountains could not hide us. The people could not hide us. And we ran to the sea. On the journey on the sea, 200 passengers died. They...
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FIRE AT SEA won the 'Golden Bear' best picture award at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Part documentary, part docudrama, it was filmed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies roughly midway between Libya and Sicily and has become the first port of call for more than 100,000 migrants from Africa and the Middle East. Over 15,000 have drowned, dying to be set free from terror and tyranny and poverty.
We see the Italian navy rescuing migrants from their sinking overcrowded boats and dinghies; many of them are in a desperate condition after days at sea. We get glimpses of the 'internment camp'where they wait to be processed and sent on to their uncertain future in a Europe which is increasingly unwelcoming.
Alternating with the refugee crisis, the film's main focus is Samuele, a 12-year-old Lampedusan who lives with his fisherman father and grandmother. The family play themselves in the style of a Pasolini movie (minus the sex and the blasphemy). We watch Samuele slurping spaghetti, struggling with homework, playing with a slingshot. They seem to have a very limited awareness of the migrant situation, although that is perhaps only the director's way of pointing up the contrast between the ordinariness of their lives and the appalling tragedy taking place in the waters around their island.
This heart-wrenching film offers no solution to the crisis. How could it? There clearly isn't one.
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