Gianfranco Rosi

PLEASE NOTE: This film will be screened with DUTCH subtitles.

Samuele, age 12, lives on an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Like all boys his age, he is mischievous, climbs on rocks and hangs out around the harbour. But his island is not like the other islands. He lives on Lampedusa: the Italian island which has become the gateway to Europe for boat refugees.

The Italian island of Lampedusa has become the European destination for all the men, women and children who are crossing the Mediterranean Sea in far too small, rickety boats. These people are looking for peace, freedom or just plain happiness, but they often don't make it; the bodies of many of them are retrieved from the sea.

But life on the island goes on anyway. With considerable patience, the island doctor listens to Samuele as he explains that he is burdened by feelings of stress. That very same doctor explains to us later that many of the refugees who attempt to cross the sea suffer serious burns. When the outboard engine needs refilling, they sometimes spill gas which mixes with the salty seawater and becomes a dangerous cocktail. If they reach the other side, it still remains to be seen whether they survive. Every day, these island residents are witness to one of the biggest human tragedies in our time.

Text: Dirk van der Straaten


Gianfranco Rosi
Country of production
France, Italy
108 minutes
Spoken language
English, French, Italian
Production company
Stemal Entertainment
World Sales
Doc & Film International
Dutch distributor