How Director Gianfranco Rosi Created A ‘Fire At Sea’: Italy’s Oscar Entry

Kino Lorber

Italy’s entry at the Oscar’s this year, Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Seais also being submitted in the feature documentary category.

The film is largely seen through the eyes of 12-year old Samuele Puccilo, whose eight-square-mile home island of Lampedusa, located between Libya and Sicily, has become a crossroads for an immense influx of African refugees.

Rosi’s docs possess a particular style, specifically, there’s no voiceover narration telling us what to think, nor is there an orchestrated score. Here in Rosi’s conversation with Deadline senior editor Dominic Patten, he expounds on his cinematic technique, unpeeling the horrors of the crisis little by little.

As a filmmaker, Rosi is a one-man band, in that he’s his own DP and editor. This gave him the freedom to stay over a year in Lampedusa to fully document how the island is a case study for the larger refugee situation that is impacting Europe. It’s via Samuele’s innocence to the refugee situation that we indict our own obliviousness to the crisis. We begin to realize the size of the tragedy through the island’s doctor Pietro Bartolo who tends to those most in need of care as they arrive to the island.

“I like a film that raises more questions,” says Rosi, “I want the reality to unfold in front of me, in front of the camera.”

Fire at Sea is nominated for best film audience award at the European Film Awards, and also collected the Golden Berlin Bear and the Amnesty International Film Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

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