Fire at Sea
March 16, 2017
Meet Samuele, a 12-year-old boy who lives simply, climbing rocks by his island’s shore and playing with his slingshot. Although he has his own burdens — homework, anxiety attacks, and a lazy eye – they pale in comparison to those nearby. Only a stone’s throw away from Samuele, we bear witness to thousands of women, men, and children risking their lives in the brutal sea crossing from Africa to Europe. Director Gianfranco Rosi (pictured here) helps watchers of Fire at Sea, or Fuoccoammare, understand what is going on in this region, the growing toll of the migrant crisis, and the shocking reality that many don’t understand.
Award winning Rosi does not spare his audience the brutal glimpses of the migrants’ horror and pain. After working with the Mexican Drug Trade and in the areas near the Ganges River and the California desert, the director has developed a keen social conscience. Actress Meryl Streep considers Fire at Sea to be: “a daring hybrid of captured footage and deliberate storytelling that allows us to consider what documentary can do. It is urgent, imaginative and necessary film making.” Rosi strives to make an impact by taking a hard, empathetic look at reality. He relies on viewers to reach the necessary conclusions.
Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary Feature last month and the first nonfiction film to ever win the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, Fire at Sea takes place in Lampedusa, a small Italian island off the coast of Africa that comes under the political umbrella of Sicily. Lampedusa has become a dropoff point for boatloads of refugees from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The film explores aspects of the refugee crisis left untouched by the media and political discourse. Just off the island’s shores, a daily battle is fought for the lives of refugees, who push notwithstanding the odds to reach the European shore — and freedom. There is only one character that helps bridge the wide chasm between Samuele’s world and that of “the others”: a doctor (read his story here) who helps treat the migrants as well as the boy. Since the filming of Fire at Sea started, over 25,000 people have died making the trip to Lampedusa.
This movie aims to impact us — watching it is the first step. Rosi says that through his film, “you discover a different reality, and when you move your head and you start watching everything, the story stops. When you put your eye back, it starts again.”