FIRE AT SEA (Gianfranco Rosi) 109 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (October 21). See listings. Rating: NNNN
Gianfranco Rosi’s haunting documentary is set on and around the small Italian island of Lampedusa, which is mostly a quiet, old-fashioned place but in the past decades has become a site where thousands of refugees crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa end up, dead or alive.
This is true observational filmmaking. No judgments are made about the refugees and their harrowing ordeals, or the native Italians, including a physician, a preadolescent boy obsessed with slingshots and a devout woman who phones in requests to the local radio station.
Rosi captures it all with balance and dignity, allowing a bit of humour in an impromptu game of soccer among the refugees and letting the immensity of the sea and sky at times dwarf the human experience.
Definitely one to catch on a big screen.