Italy 2016

Running time: 114 mins

Fire at Sea

Director : Gianfranco Rosi

Summary :
Life on Lamedusa as a migrant crisis unfolds at sea
Original Language:
Arri Amira Digital
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 widescreen
Dolby digital

Last seen:
Wed 28th Apr 2021


Samuele is a young boy growing up on Lampedusa and doing all the things boys do. Meanwhile out at sea boats crammed to the gunnels with migrants are attempting to make the crossing from the African coast to Europe. 

Film Category


A slow burn

by Roger CO on Wed 28th Apr 2021. Streaming proj @ home (with subtitles)

A documentary using only natural sound, with no voiceover or interviews, and a languid visual style that is sometimes at odds with the subject matter.

Possibly it started out as a straightforward reflective observational documentary about life on Lampedusa focusing on the boy, Samuele, to explore the local culture - strongly tied to the sea, but then these external events intervened with boats full of distressed and dying refugees being plucked from the ocean and brought to the island for onward processing.

We see extraordinary detail of the work of the navy rescuers and glimpse some of the refugee experience, but it is a very narrow window e peer through - nothing about how they came to be there or where they are taken - and there is no contact between the boy and those passing through. 

The film never really resolves whether it is a documentary about life on Lampedusa, or a documentary about migrants attempting to reach a safe haven in Europe.

Having said that it was pretty compelling viewing.