Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea). 2016. Italy. Directed by Gianfranco Rosi. In English, Italian; English subtitles. 108 min.
Winner of Berlin International Film Festival’s Golden Bear this year, Gianfranco Rosi’s powerful portrait of Lampedusa, an Italian island south of Sicily that has become a center of the global migrant crisis, juxtaposes traumatic refugee experiences with the quiet daily life of the island’s inhabitants. Thousands fleeing war and poverty arrive by sea; many die during the treacherous journey. Rosi follows members of the Italian coast guard as they confront overloaded boats of migrants, discover horrendous conditions on board, provide temporary shelter, and count the dead. Scenes of desperation are intercut with those of mundane island activities: a radio DJ plays Sicilian music, a woman prepares a meal, a man dives for sea urchins. A bubbly preteen boy, Samuele, catches the attention of Rosi’s observant camera in particular. In his simplest actions, as ordinary as playing the slingshot and slurping spaghetti, Samuele exhibits a passion for life that the refugees equally share but have to pay an enormous price for. Courtesy of Kino Lorber.