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 - is both a masterly work of documentary filmmaking and a timely call for urgent action.
Situated 150 miles south of Sicily, Lampedusa has hit headlines as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees hoping to make a new life in Europe. After spending months living on the island and engaging with its inhabitants, 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.
Gianfranco Rosi was born in Asmara, Eritrea. After attending university in Italy, in 1985 he moved to New York and graduated from the New York University Film School. Following a journey to India, he produced and directed his first documentary film, Boatman, screened with success at various international film festivals including the Sundance Film Festival, the Locarno Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.
In 2008, Below Sea Level, shot in Slab City, California, won the Orizzonti Award at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for best documentary at the European Film Awards in 2009.
In 2010, Rosi shot the feature El Sicario - Room 164, a film-interview about a killer turned informer from the Mexican drug cartels and won the Fipresci Award at the Venice International Film Festival. In 2013, he filmed the documentary feature, Sacro GRA, that won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival.
Original title: Fuocoammare
Production year: 2015
DVD catalogue number: ART797DVD
Winner of Golden Bear at 2016 Berlin Film Festival
Nominated for the 2017 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar
Nominated for Best European Documentary at the 2016 European Film Awards
Winner of Documentary of the Year at 2017 London Critics' Circle Awards