My quest is now complete to watch all of the 2017 Oscar nominees for the best documentary with the viewing of Fire At Sea. The film is also the Italian entry into Best Foreign Language Film this year but was not selected.
Fire At Sea was shot completely on the tiny island of Lampedusa in Sicily and focuses on the European migration occurring and how it effects this tiny island. Lampedusa’s location in the Mediterranean Sea means that when people are escaping Europe via treacherous water travel, they often have to stop there to survive. A small local boy from a family of fisherman and a local doctor are the key characters within this film. We get to see how everything on the island is effected by the constant influx of these people needing safety and care. Director Gianfranco Rosi said he wanted this film to bring focus to the migrant crisis and how families are dying while traveling across the sea. I would say that it is almost brilliant how Rosi somehow makes a film about the refugee crisis without that being the actual focus. The islanders of Lampedusa are who really shine in this film. Their generosity to all coming in to find freedom and a safer life is extraordinary.
I did enjoy Fire At Sea, though at times it did seem to drag a bit. The film is obviously in Italian as well, so if subtitles are a turn off then this one might not be for you. I would say that while this issue is important to the entire world, that this film may be the weakest of the 5 nominated.
5 tiny but important islands out of 10
So to summarize all of the Oscar nominees in my rating order:
5) Fire At Sea
3) I Am Not Your Negro
2) O.J.: Made in America
1) Life, Animated
As much as I want Life, Animated to win this year, no one listens to what I say. Especially the Academy. So I feel that 13th will end up getting the nod, unfortunately more for political reasons than because it was a better film.