When Gianfranco Rosi won top honor at Venice Film Fest in 2003, with Sacro Gra, it was the first time the Golden Lion went to a documentary feature. Rosi strikes again this year, in Berlin, coming home from the Berlinale with the Golden Bear in his suitcase as the jury went for Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea).

With its 6000 inhabitants, the island of Lampedusa, 200km off Italy’s southern coast, is a gateaway for African and Middle Eastern migrants. Hundreds of them, crossing the Mediterranean sea, land on its shores weekly while on their way to Europe. Lampedusa is often a temporary break from the dangers of the sea for hundreds of thousands hoping to set on the continent.

In an intriguing personal process that can be disconcerting, Rosi plays with the parallel between the quiet lives of the inhabitants and the rescue operations at sea mostly without major association between the two subjects with no voice over. Shocking images of danger and death with meditations on duty as human beings come in episodic waves.

In Fuocoammare, the harmony of the peaceful picture of a young boy living an ordinary life in paradisiac Lampedusa gets interrupted by the singing of a group of African refugees telling, as a prayer, the story of their long journey to escape Hell.

Fuocoammare is opening the 19th edition of RIDM in Montreal on November 10.

Screening 1
Nov. 10 7:00 PM
Concordia University (H-110)
Italian with French Subs

Screening 2
Nov. 14 5:45 PM
Cinéma du Parc 1
Italian with French Subs