Fuocoammare by Gianfranco Rosi (2016) differs from the other texts in this chapter in several significant ways. In the first place, it held a significantly more prominent cultural standing than the other texts in this chapter. The closest to it in terms of broad-scale recognizability is Terraferma, which won several prestigious awards and grossed x at the box office. However, Fuocoammare was Italy’s entry for best foreign film at the 2016 Oscars, and then for best documentary (I need to get this story stirhgt). It became much more of a shared point of reference in part because of this, but also because the public perception of the migrant “crisis” jhad become ever grader and more widely discused by 2016 than it was in 2013 or in earlier years. This was due in part to the reopening of the Libya-Lampedusa route, which had been temporarily shut down as a result of a deal between the Berlusconi government and Ghedaffi in 2010(?), and in part because of the increased profile of migration in Europe after the collapse of Syria in 2015, which turned from a developed, educated, and industrialised country into a failed state over the course of just a few years. A further anecodatl indication of Fuocoammare’s culture capital comes from Matteo Renzi, Italian prime minister from 2014-2016, who upon seeing the film, ordered 26 copies of it on DVD to distribute to the other EU heads of state.
A second point of divergence with the preceding texts lies in its self-positioning within the continuum that has at one pole pure artistic invention and at the other documentaries that explicitly fashion themselves as documentaries. Fuocoammare is in fact a documentary in a way that Terraferma is not, even though Terraferma incorporates elements of Timnit T’s story of survival. Much of Fuocoammare constists of footage from rescues at sea, events captured by Rosi’s camera as they played out in real time. And, differently from Crialese’s film, these were not staged.
The third initial point of divergence from other texts in this chapter, which makes Fuocoammare an outlier in this group, is that it belongs to a category of Italian-produced texts on the topic of migration that draw on stronger theoretical grounding, and which strive to show the subjecthood of migrants in their own voices, rather than projdect their imaginative inventions onto the. In this sense, Fuocoammare has more in common with Andrea Segre’s Io sono Li (which I will discuss in the third chapter) than it does with a film like Terraferma.
Having made these preliminary reflections on the uniqueness of this film, I will briefly describe its content.