What does it mean living close to one of the most controversial borders that has been welcoming thousands of migrants? To understand that, Italian film director Gianfranco Rosi moved to Lampedusa (Sicily) and lived there for one year. The film Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea) is the result of this experience and that’s why it will be screened for the Refugee Week Preview at the BFI on June 2.
The Berlin Golden Bear-winning documentary dives into the daily life on the Mediterranean island, actually closer to Tunisia than to Sicily, as it tries to deal with the humanitarian crisis that involves the refugees of Africa and Middle Asia coming every day on its shores. Rosi, whose works include also the documentary Sacro GRA, awarded the Venice Golden Lion in 2013, called the deaths of thousands of migrants at sea the biggest tragedy facing Europe since the Holocaust.
The film especially focuses on 12-year-old Samuele, a local guy, but also on other inhabitants such as his fisherman father, his grandmother, a diver, the local radio DJ and his elderly aunt and uncle. The film features also Dr.Bartolo, the doctor who has “a hole in his stomach” and nightmares from performing autopsies on dead migrants who have arrived over the years.
Fuocoammare describes the life on the island in different forms, not only telling the stories of its inhabitants, but also of the countless migrants who have braved the waters of the Mediterranean in fragile boats, fleeing their countries in the hope of finding a quieter condition in Europe.
As the film director himself said, Lampedusa is a kind of “fishermen’s place” that receives anything that comes from the sea. And lampedusani (Lampedusa’s inhabitants) have been welcoming whoever runs away from wars and starvation since 1991.
This film is a wake-up call to Europe on migrants and refugees issues. It is particularly important now that UK will decide, on June 23, about Brexit; the comparison between the two islands is immediate. The UK is ready to leave EU and reject not only its members, but also refugees as well. Lampedusa struggles to manage the European migrant crisis, but would it be able to reject the refugees and close its heart?
Panel discussion will follow the screening. To book your ticket please check this page.