Fire at Sea

114 minutes 2016

This searching documentary about the European immigration crisis focuses on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, where thousands of people arrive each year from Africa and the Middle East en route to the continent. Director Gianfranco Rosi divides his narrative between a 12-year-old boy who lives on the island, enjoying a bucolic childhood of slingshots and firecrackers, and the rescue teams that risk life and limb to save imperiled boats at sea (according to the movie, some 15,000 people have died trying to reach Lampedusa in the past 20 years). Though conceived as a humanitarian statement, the movie wouldn't be as memorable or challenging without its quotidian aspect—when a local woman putters around her kitchen cooking as the radio brings news of 34 people lost at sea, you wonder at her emotional detachment before relating it to your own. In Italian with subtitles.

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