Sea fire (film)

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German title Sea fire
Original title Fuocoammare
Country of production Italy , France
original language Italian , English
Publishing year 2016
length 108 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Gianfranco Rosi
script Gianfranco Rosi
production Paolo Del Brocco ,
Donatella Palermo
camera Gianfranco Rosi
cut Jacopo Quadri
  • Samuele Pucillo
  • Mattias Cucina
  • Samuele Caruana
  • Pietro Bartolo
  • Giuseppe Fragapane
  • Maria Signorello
  • Francesco Paterna
  • Francesco Mannino
  • Maria Costa

Seefeuer (original title: Fuocoammare , Italian for fire at sea ) is an Italian documentary film by Gianfranco Rosi based on an idea by Carla Cattani from 2016 . It shows life on the island of Lampedusa , where mainly African refugees have been heading across the sea for years. The film was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlinale 2016 . It was shown in Switzerland (Xenix film distribution) and was also released in German cinemas on July 28th.


The film begins with images of a radar station that is receiving an emergency call from a boat with people who have fled. In further scenes, the partly successful and partly unsuccessful rescue of refugees who reach the waters near Lampedusa is shown. One scene shows how individuals who apparently need medical help most urgently are pulled from an overcrowded boat onto a sea rescue ship. They are young African men. Their clothes are soaked in diesel and salt water. One of the people is so dehydrated that it is not certain that he will survive. Further scenes capture the life of African refugees in the initial reception center on Lampedusa. A soccer game “Eritrea against Syria” for example, the goals are marked with two plastic bottles on the asphalt. There is also an African who speaks in the form of a chant about his painful journey through the desert via Libya to the Mediterranean.

At the same time, Fuocoammare follows the everyday life of various islanders, especially Samuele, a twelve-year-old boy. He gets nauseous while boating, so, on his father's advice, he walks on the floating jetties at the harbor to harden his stomach. In the further course you can see him learning to steer a rowing boat himself, which does not really work at the beginning. In one scene, Samuele shows a friend of about the same age how to build slingshots and use them to aim. Later in the game, a number of cacti become enemies that need to be attacked. The two boys slit faces in the fleshy leaves and then fire them with their slingshots, only to carefully "treat" the cacti with adhesive tape in the next step. Another time they shoot imaginary machine guns in the air. Samuele recently received special glasses that cover his right eye. The other eye is sluggish and can be trained in this way, which he tries, for example, during war games or when aiming with a slingshot.

The viewer meets other islanders, for example the presenter of the local radio station and “Aunt Maria”, who from time to time wants a song from him, including “Fuocoammare”, which is about “fire at sea”, on the attacks during the Second World War referring.

The doctor Pietro Bartolo treats island residents as well as refugees. He talks about his experiences during rescue operations that cause him nightmares. He shows various images on a computer monitor, for example of an African who suffered severe burns from clothes soaked with diesel. He says a person who calls himself that can't help but help. In one scene, Bartolo examines a refugee woman via ultrasound; she is pregnant with twins. Bartolo can hardly communicate with her due to the language barrier, so hopefully a language mediator will come soon. In another scene, Bartolo examines Samuele, who came to him with breathing problems. While Samuele is quite concerned, Bartolo is sure that he is healthy.

In one of the last scenes of the film, the camera follows the interior of a comparatively large boat down to the lower deck. It shows the ground covered by dead bodies, which are packed close together. There are no faces to be seen, only dozens of corpses.

At the end, you see Samuele again at the harbor, walking on the floating jetties to get his body used to the shaking ground.

Director Gianfranco Rosi at the Berlinale 2016

Award ceremony

“Fuoccoammare” was awarded the Golden Bear for best film at the 66th Berlinale 2016 .

“We live in a world in which many walls and borders are being drawn. Most of all, I am afraid of the spiritual boundaries that are being drawn up. "

- Gianfranco Rosi, Berlinale 2016

In addition, he received the Ecumenical Jury Prize , the Amnesty International Film Prize , the Berliner Morgenpost Readers' Jury Prize and the Peace Prize of German Films - Die Brücke (Special Prize) in 2016 and the European Film Prize 2016 (Best Documentary).

In 2017 she was nominated for an Oscar in the category Best Documentary .


For Peter Zander from Berliner Morgenpost , Fuocoammare is the “film of the hour and then really good too”. The greatness of the film lies in the fact that it shows everyday life on Lampedusa as well as the search for and arrival of refugees without any explanatory comment: “The pictures speak for themselves. And, that's the terrible thing: They show that the state of emergency It's been part of everyday life on the island for a long time. "The director found" captivating, disturbing images, "says Zander," which repeatedly turn to large metaphors ".

Daniel Kothenschulte calls Fuocoammare in the Frankfurter Rundschau one of the "great humanistic documentary films in history". Rosi's camera is able to capture the “intolerable everydayness” of the lifeboat operations, “beyond the fleetingness of the usual news images”. Kothenschulte compares the portrayal in the film with a painting by Brueghel , insofar as “village normality is also the backdrop of a human catastrophe”.

The film was given the rating of particularly valuable by the German film and media rating . The reasoning states: “Rosi got close to the people, he gives a face to all the vagueness that we think we know from the media. Thanks to its level-headed and non-proclamatory narrative tone, 'Seefeuer' is an enormously important contemporary document that fills a gaping gap in the daily pictorial jungle of hysterical reporting. "


For the political situation in Lampedusa see main article Lampedusa, Migranten .

The director Gianfranco Rosi was born in Eritrea and evacuated from there to Italy during the war of independence at the age of 13 , his parents stayed behind.

Originally, based on an idea from Carla Cattani, Rosi wanted to shoot a ten-minute short film in Lampedusa, but during the first test shoots on location she discovered that reality is too complex to be captured in a short film.

Rosi was in Lampedusa for about a year to make the film, which enabled him to get in closer contact with the islanders. The meeting with Giuseppe "Peppino" Del Volgo was particularly important. He became Rosi's assistant director for the film. Del Volgo's grandfather wrote the eponymous song "Fuocoammare".

Rosi told Del Volgo that he wanted to work with a child, whereupon Del Volgo introduced him to Samuele Pucillo. Rosi immediately decided on Samuele, who was twelve at the time; he was the first choice. Rosi met the doctor Pietro Bartolo because he had bronchitis on the island and went to see Bartolo. They started talking about the shooting and it was soon clear that Bartolo would have his say in the film. As a doctor on the island, Bartolo has been involved in the rescue and recovery of refugees since the early 1990s, when the first boat ran aground on Lampedusa. Since then, he has been interviewed by almost every television station in the world, as Bartolo said at the 2016 Berlinale press conference . He hopes that he can use it to raise public awareness.

The lazy eye of Samuele is a portrait for Rosi: Just as he hopes that the world public will take on their responsibility for the refugee tragedy, Samuele hopes that he can train his lazy eye and see well with both eyes as quickly as possible. It wasn't Rosi's intention to make a political film. As he states, the images developed in front of the camera, there were no pre-planned scenes, no spoken line was fixed in writing.

What was very important for Rosi when shooting were the lighting conditions. The ideal companion for him is a winter light with a cloud-covered sky. He usually only shot with one or two other people on the film team. The scenes in the dark were illuminated with a flashlight. The fact that he could work with a comparatively light camera was also of great help to Rosi. Fuocoammare was filmed with an Amira camera from ARRI . According to Rosi, it was an extremely useful tool, and the technology came to his aid here.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Approval certificate for sea ​​fire . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry (PDF; test number: 159793 / K). Template: FSK / maintenance / type not set and Par. 1 longer than 4 characters
  2. 66th Berlin International Film Festival: Golden Bear for refugee documentation
  3. Quote from Gianfranco Rosi at the award ceremony at the Berlinale 2016 (TAZ)
  4. Peter Zander: A tragedy before all of us: "Fuocoammare". Berliner Morgenpost , February 13, 2016, accessed on February 18, 2016 .
  5. Daniel Kothenschulte: The persuasiveness of reality . In: Frankfurter Rundschau . February 14, 2016 ( online ).
  6. Sea Fire. Jury reasons: Predicate particularly valuable In: German film and media evaluation . Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  7. Press conference of the 66th Berlinale on February 13, 2016 , accessed on February 18, 2016