In 2013, director Gianfranco Rosi depicted life near a Rome highway in Sacro GRA; in this documentary, he turns his camera on the European refugee crisis that began in 2015. Visiting the Italian island of Lampedusa, he finds a main entry point for primarily African refugees who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean. Rosi captures the unpleasantness and tragedy of how the crisis is handled; many of the refugees who arrive are already dead. In contrast to all of this, we follow the everyday lives of people living on Lampedusa, especially a family of fishermen and a 12-year-old boy. A local doctor treats them as well as the refugees and it’s heartbreaking to hear his horrifying testimony. A slow-moving but gripping illustration of a dilemma that makes us feel helpless.
2016-Italy. 114 min. Color. Produced by Roberto Cicutto, Paolo Del Brocco, Camille Laemlé, Serge Lalou, Donatella Palermo, Gianfranco Rosi, Martine Saada. Written, directed and photographed by Gianfranco Rosi.
Trivia: Original title: Fuocoammare.
Berlin: Golden Bear. European Film Awards: Best Documentary.
Last word: “We don’t need the answers. Answers are just good for today. Then tomorrow it’s a different answer. When you get an answer, it becomes ideological, so I want to leave this space open. I have sometimes near me a poetry book, and every time I open it, it’s different. I read the same poetry in so many different moments and it talks to me in a different way constantly. I like that language in documentary.” (Rosi, No Film School)