DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare)

The borders of Italy are open, and so are the wounds of African immigrants - watch it right now on our website

Once again Gianfranco Rosi (The Boatman, 1993; Sacro GRA, 2013) investigates the reality of inhabitants of specific conflict zones. He has already gone to Varanasi, in India, Ciudad de Juarez, in Mexico, and to the outskirts of Rome. His camera searches for tales of extraordinary lives, from whores to botanics or sicarios (hitmen), as in the title of El Sicario, Room 164 (2010). This time he travelled to the island of Lampedusa, which has become a metaphor for freedom among African refugees.

In Italian, the title Fuocoammare plays with the words “ al mare” (at sea) and “amare” (to love) that unfortunately was lost in translation. It also refers to a South Italian song. It is clear, though, that the film is a love composition for the refugees. In fact, one of the doctors in charge of examining the corpses says he would never get used to seeing dead pregnant women or dead little children, despite the large number of bodies he scrutinises daily.

History is cyclic. What Fire at Sea exposes is a new type of slave ship. Those refugees come from Nigeria, Libya, Eritrea and Chad, some of them have crossed the Sahara and were antagonised by ISIS. They escape to the sea in a desperate cry for help, paying up to $1,000 for a very risky trip. It is not only the illegal aspect of the immigration that is risky, but the journey itself. Those who are at the bottom of the boat suffer dehydration and are often burnt by diesel.

Rosi has inherited the most famous trace of Italian culture, which is comedy, so the movie is not as dark as it could sound. He picks up Samuele, a twelve year-old boy, son of a fisherman, who plays the role of the documentarist, as he raises many urgent questions. The narrative flows in waves, always with humour and depth.

The director excels in cinematography, revealing the colours of night and submarine life almost like a Discovery Channel show. Both sea and night hide their beauty and creatures. One has to find a way to portray it accurately, revealing the deep truth. The darting editing by Jacopo Quadri, a regular collaborator, alternates between emotionally-laden and light-hearted takes.

A permanent state of emergency makes those framed individuals a subject too large to disregard. Samuele has a “lazy eye” and is obliged to use a blindfold. But Europe cannot turn a blind eye to African refugees anymore. Historical mistakes can be very expensive.

Watch Fire at Sea below:

By Maysa Moncao - 16-02-2016

Maysa Monção is a Brazilian writer, teacher, translator, editor and art performer who currently lives in London. She has a Masters Degree in Film Studies from Tor Vergata University in Rome, Italy, ...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Sexual diversity is at the very heart of [Read More...]
Films quotes are very powerful not just because [Read More...]

Read More

Our dirty questions to Sarah Young


John McDonald - 27-05-2024

John McDonald interviews Sarah Young, the director of the deceptive "perfectly married couple" movie Not Him; they talk about domestic violence, the paranormal as a horror device, her upcoming comedy horror series, and a lot more [Read More...]

The Substance

Coralie Fargeat

Victor Fraga - 27-05-2024

Coralie Fargeat's deliciously bonkers body horror is a grotesque, groovy and hilarious riff on sexism, ageism, and the absurd beauty standards forced upon women - from the 77th Festival de Cannes [Read More...]

All We Imagine As Light

Payal Kapadia

Joshua Polanski - 27-05-2024

Dirty gem from India bludgeons the beauty standards of both Bollywood and Hollywood, while refreshingly allowing women to find pleasure in sex - Grand Prix winner at the 77th Cannes International Film Festival [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

One thought on “Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *