Directed by Gianfranco Rosi
24th – 30th June 2016
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
Any empathy I may have had with director Gianfrano Rosi’s attempt in his documentary to highlight the plight of refugees landing on Lampedusa, an island off Sicily, evaporated within the first ten minutes or so when an inhabitant there, a young lad called Samuele, after creating a crude catapult, was filmed attempting to kill a bird, sleeping within its nest, with this killer tool, in a forest in the middle of the night. Thankfully he failed.
How can Rosi justify following this sadistic child and film him in this act?
He wants us to offer sorrow and support to helpless humans, with their lives in grave danger, but it’s morally alright to slay a defenceless bird.
My interest in Fire at Sea waned after this sequence.
For some unfathomable reason he repeatedly featured Samuele throughout the near two hour film. What was the connection between him and the migrants struggling to stay alive on the island? The child constantly played to the camera and, guess what, he was again filmed using his catapult to aim at imaginary birds in the sky with a gleeful smile on his face.
The most disturbing images of the human tragedy there where those of the frequent states of emergency sent to coast guards around the island, many of those received being distress calls. A familiar sight shown on coast guards screens were boats overloaded with people floating precariously in the waves.
In all, approximately 400,000 refugees have attempted to cross to Lampedusa, with 15,000 dying in the process.