Movie Review: Fire At Sea is two good documentaries that don’t go great together

At a glance, Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire At Sea looks like a fairly basic current-events documentary. Rosi shot the film entirely on (and off the coast of) Lampedusa, a small Italian island located 127 miles southwest of Sicily. It’s the closest European landmass to Libya and Tunisia, and boats loaded with African migrants regularly cross the Mediterranean attempting to reach its shore, often with tragic results. Thousands have lost their lives over just the past few years, in highly publicized tragedies; hundreds more have died since Fire At Sea premiered at this year’s Berlin Film Festival (where it won the Golden Bear, Berlin’s top prize). Rosi captures the crisis in close-up, providing details that are too grim for the news. Sensitive viewers should know that the film includes some truly harrowing footage of rescue efforts, with medical personnel doing their best to save people so horrifically dehydrated …

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