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Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare)

Modern Masters

Gianfranco Rosi / Feature Documentary / Italy, France / 2016 / 109 min / Colour / DCP2K
In English, Italian / Arabic, English subtitles
Interests: Documentary, Social Issues, Immigration
MENA Premiere
Rated: Mature subject matter. Not suitable for minors. Individuals under the age of 18 are not admitted into cinemas.


  • Fri, Mar 9, 07:00 PM, MIA-A
    Tickets sales closed


The tiny Italian island of Lampedusa lies in the Mediterranean Sea, about halfway between the east coast of Tunisia and the island of Malta. Lampedusa’s official population is just over 6,000; over the past two decades, approximately 400,000 migrants have landed here en route from Africa to Europe. Estimates fix the number of those who have died trying to make this perilous sea crossing during that period at 15,000.

Director Gianfranco Rosi’s camera observes the parallel lives of Lampedusa’s inhabitants – among them Samuele, a charismatic and mischievous 12-year-old boy struggling with a lazy eye; and the island’s only doctor, whose tasks include treating migrants rescued from capsized transport vessels – and those who have made it this far in their quest to find a better life on the European continent.

While the Golden Bear-winning film has wonderful moments of lightness – Samuele’s visit to a doctor complaining of breathing problems is a delight – the forbidding dark shadow of the contemporary migration crisis hangs heavy as the viewer is presented with deeply troubling images of suffering that will not soon be forgotten. Necessary and urgent, in the words of Berlinale jury president Meryl Streep, ‘Fire at Sea’ “demands its place in front of our eyes and compels our engagement and action.”

About the Director

GIANFRANCO ROSI was born in Asmara, Eritrea, and attended university in Italy before emigrating to the United States in 1985 to study Film at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Following a journey to India, he produced and directed his first documentary, ‘Boatman’ (1993), which was selected for film festivals including the Locarno Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

In 2008, his first feature-length documentary, ‘Below Sea Level’ won the Orizzonti Award at the Venice Film Festival, as well as the Grand Prix and the Prix des Jeunes at Cinéma du Réel, the prize for Best Documentary at the One World Film Festival in Prague, and the Vittorio De Seta prize for Best Documentary at the Bari International Film Festival; it was also nominated for the European Film Award for Best Documentary.

In 2010, Rosi directed ‘El Sicario, Room 164’, a film-interview about a killer-turned-informer from a Mexican drug cartel. Despite contrasting reviews, it won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Venice Film Festival and the Doc/it Professional Award for Best Documentary, and was named Best Film at DocLisboa.

In 2013, ‘Sacro Gra’, won the Golden Lion at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, becoming the first documentary to ever land the prize.
His most recent documentary, ‘Fire at Sea’ (2016), won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, as well as the European Film Award for Best Documentary. The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.


Gianfranco Rosi
Donatella Palermo, Gianfranco Rosi, Roberto Cicutto, Paolo Del Brocco, Serge Lalou, Camille Laemlé, Martine Saada, Olivier Père
Jacopo Quadri
Gianfranco Rosi
Sales Company
Doc & Film International
Production Company
21uno Film Srl
MC Distribution
Samuele Pucillo, Mattias Cucina, Samuele Caruana, Pietro Bartolo, Giuseppe Fragapano

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