Directed by Gianfranco Rosi, the 2016 Intalian documentary film Fire at Sea (Italian: Fuocoammare) won the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, and it selected as the Italian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards. The film was released on February 13, 2016 in Berlin and on February 18, 2016 in Italy. However, the release date of Fire at Sea in North America market will be seven months later than its initial release date, falling on October 20, 2016. Before you pay a visit to cinemas, you’d better take a close look at Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare) here.

Part 1: Background of Fire at Sea – Lampedusa Migrant Crisis

The documentary film Fire of Sea captures life on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a frontline in the European migrant crisis. The film is a portrait of Lampedusa, the Sicilian island where desperate migrants from Africa and the Middle East arrive each year hoping for a new life in Europe: 400,000 in the last 20 years. Around its coast thousands are drowned, or dragged dead from their grotesquely unsafe inflatables, burned or poisoned by fumes from the diesel with which their craft have had to be refuelled from jerry cans mid-journey, in choppy seas. Lampedusa has quietly become the tragic epicentre of the migrant experience: part holding tank, part cemetery.

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Lampedusa island, much closer to the North African coast than to Sicily and the rest of Italy, has taken on an outsize role in the debate over illegal immigration, becoming, for many in Italy and across Europe, the face of the migrant crisis and the conduit for exporting Arab instability across the Mediterranean.

Part 2: Preview of and Introduction to Fire at Sea

First comes to the origin of the film title. The title Fire at Sea refers to a wartime Sicilian song that a local DJ is shown playing, about the bombing of an Italian warship in 1943 in port at Lampedusa, prior to the island’s surrender to the allies, and how the flames lit up the night: Che fuoco a mare che c’è stasera (“What fire at sea there is tonight”).

Using mainly fixed camera positions and no narrative voiceover, Gianfranco Rosi enigmatically juxtaposes scenes, switching between the migrants’ daily, desperate landfall, and the everyday existence of one Lampedusa family: and one young boy in particular, Samuele, whose uncle is a fisherman. Samuele does his best at school, he slurps his pasta at dinner, and he likes cutting branches that will make handles for his naughty slingshots. He has a lazy eye that doctors are treating with the old-fashioned method of blanking out one lens for the good eye, forcing the lazy one to work harder. Samuele is also suffering from hyperventilation and anxiety, and is seen by the same depressed doctor who has to attend to the migrants and carry out autopsies on their wretched corpses. He is the one explicit point of contact between the migrants’ story and Samuele, one hint of a symptom, or a larger malaise.

samuele-playing-with-slingshot

Winner of the Golden Bear for Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival 2016, Gianfranco Rosi’s incisive, poignant and deeply moving portrait of the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, and the humanitarian crisis occurring in the seas around it, are both a masterly work of documentary filmmaking and a timely call for urgent action.

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After spending months living on the island and engaging with its inhabitants, Gianfranco Rosi accumulated an incredible array of footage, portraying the history, culture and daily lives of the islanders. Focusing on 12-year-old Samuele, as he explores the land and attempts to gain mastery of the sea, the film slowly builds a breathtakingly naturalistic portrait of the Lampedusan people and the events that surround them. The result is a lyrical, poetic and searingly powerful documentary that casts neither judgement nor aspersions, but simply shows the world to the viewer–to utterly devastating effect.

Part 3: Fire at Sea Photos and Trailer

Fire at Sea offers a clear-eyed yet empathetic look at a corner of the world whose terrain may be unfamiliar to many, but whose people’s story remains universal. Although it was released in Berlin and Italy half a year ago, it will be released in North America on Oct 20, 2016. Here are some photos and trailers for you to preview. Take a look.

Fire at Sea Poster:

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Scenery in Lampedusa:

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Blue Sea:

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Note: If you find those photos compelling, you can make use of Leawo Video Converter to make photo slideshow.

Fire at Sea Trailer:

Note: More film trailers can be found and watched on YouTube. If you find the trailer interesting and would like to save it into your local hard drive, you can make use of Leawo Video Donwloader to download the trailer.