This wonderful documentary is both sweet and very sad. By contrasting normal life in Lampedusa, an island off Sicily in Italy, with the refugee crisis, director Gianfranco Rosi has made a film that shows the human aspects of newspaper headlines.
Two locals in particular dominate the film: a young boy through whose eyes we see ‘normal’ Lampedusan life; and a doctor who comes into contact with refugees because of his vocation.
What makes the film so powerful is the way it shows the details of island life and then the logistics of rescuing migrants; time is taken over both. As the film progresses, the two strands support each other to make a central point that this migrant crisis is taking place among us. People die trying to cross the Mediterranean. Apart from one small scene where the doctor talks about his work in relation to the migrants brought ashore from their un-seaworthy boat, the two worlds do not meet so we do not find out what local people think of the crisis. This is not the point, however, and it serves to remind us that our lives often continue oblivious to the pain of others.