Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Fuocoammare
Italy/France, 2016. Stemal Entertainment, 21 Unofilm, Istituto Luce Cinecittà, Rai Cinema, Les Films d’Ici, Arte France Cinema, Ministero per I Beni e le Attivita Culturali. Screenplay by Gianfranco Rosi, from an idea by Carla Cattani. Cinematography by Gianfranco Rosi. Produced by Roberto Cicutto, Paolo Del Brocco, Camille Laemle, Serge Lalou, Donatella Palermo, Gianfranco Rosi, Martine Saada. Production Design by Alberto Baccari, Andrea Castelletti. Film Editing by Jacobo Quadri. Academy Awards 2016. Berlin Film Festival 2016. European Film Awards 2016. Toronto International Film Festival 2016.
The Mediterranean island of Lampedusa gets a high number of distress calls from boats crossing the sea from Africa, with thousands of desperate refugees risking life and limb in the hope of a better life further north. The island’s coast guard goes out into the rough seas to rescue distressed passengers, while on the island the locals lead a peaceful and quaint life, in this film embodied by a family whose youngest member is a natural born movie star. Curious and spunky, Samuele passes his days exploring the terrain of his island, scenes of natural harmony that are completely at odds with the trauma happening in the waters around him, while his doctor has to administer to both his childhood concerns as well as seeing to the devastating cases he is brought from the arriving boats. Gianfranco Rosi coaxes a neorealist feeling worthy of early Visconti out of the situations he captures, emphasizing mesmerizing (and impressively sharp) photography with very few scenes of dialogue that make for a thoughtful and intelligent documentary rich with a sense of place but suspended in time. The images of endless, tranquil blue water interrupted by the neon colours of the clothing of desperate voyagers in unsafe sailing vessels will haunt you for days.