Fire at Sea
The new Direct + Present Documentary Experience series showcases work both contemporary and historic, with the goal of creating a space for thoughtful conversation for documentarians and audience alike to explore world concerns and cinematic ones.
The first documentary to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and an Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature, Fire at Sea documents the once-peaceful Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, where a humanitarian crisis has been growing since the island has become a major entry point for refugees and migrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East into Europe. Gianfranco Rosi’s film is centered on observations of the people living on the island, including a 12-year-old boy who carves slingshots and struggles with seasickness among his family of fishermen, and the island’s only doctor, who is traumatized by his efforts to help the migrants. Yet nearby we also witness thousands of men, women, and children trying to survive the crossing from Africa in boats that are too small for such a journey. Rosi spent months living on the island and getting to know its inhabitants, and he masterfully places these realities side by side, eschewing narration, music, and strict continuity in favor of impressionistic observation, forcing viewers to come to their own conclusions and their own understanding of what is really happening in the Mediterranean today.
(Gianfranco Rosi, Italy, 2016, 108 min., DCP)
Rebecca West, Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of Italian Literature and the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and Judy Hoffman, Professor of Practice in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, will discuss the film after the screening.