Gianfranco Rosi's Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea, 2016), won the Golden Bear at the 2016 Berlinale, was shown to the European parliament, distributed to heads of state by Matteo Renzi, and has become the contemporary film most closely associated with the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. This article considers the film alongside Rosi's earlier film about Slab City, California, Below Sea Level (2008), previously little seen in the US. Wilson argues that Rosi is more than a filmmaker of the migrant tragedy in Europe, radically important though his vision is of this moment. With and beyond Fuocoammare, all his films look at extreme experiences of living and dying. Inspired by the work of philosopher and psychoanalyst Anne Dufourmantelle on secrecy, love, tenderness and risk, Wilson considers how Rosi's films achieve a closeness to their characters: a sensory and emotional immediacy, whilst refusing voyeurism and intrusion.
From Lampedusa to the California Desert: Gianfranco Rosi's Scenes of Living and Dying
Emma Wilson is Professor of French Literature and the Visual Arts at the University of Cambridge. She has written previously on Italian cinema in essays on Nanni Moretti and Alina Marazzi. She is finishing “Agnès Varda, Catherine Breillat and Nan Goldin: The Reclining Nude,” a book on cinema and photography.
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Emma Wilson; From Lampedusa to the California Desert: Gianfranco Rosi's Scenes of Living and Dying. Film Quarterly 1 March 2018; 71 (3): 10–20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2018.71.3.10
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