Gianfranco Rosi’s heartbreaking documentary won the Berlinale’s Golden Bear and now it’s got an Oscar nomination!
The European migrant crisis is the hot button topic that Rosi tackles and one that will strike a nerve for Americans and our immigration debate. While we tend to talk about who does, and does not deserve to live here in the US, Italians on the island of Lampadusa are concerned with the more immediate job of saving the lives of desperate boat people in perilous situations at sea. Politics will come later.
Fuocoamare seems almost a narrative film, with the locals playing the parts of sympathetic onlookers and aid givers, eloquently talking about their lives on the island in ways that no script could ever have lived up to. Young Samuele, for example, a happy and adventurous Italian boy doesn’t understand the anxiety he’s feeling, but his doctor does. When housing meant for 800 migrants must often accomodate 3,000 (the entire population of the island is only 6,000), everyone is affected.
Rosi doesn’t seem to care about your position on the issue, he just wants you to look at what’s happening. It reminds me of being a child watching the Vietnam war play out on TV. We saw the body bags and it wasn’t just a story in the newspaper anymore; everyone was forced to take a stand one way or the other. I think Rosi wants the same from us now.