Directed by Jonas Carpignano
Ayiva recently left his home in Burkina Faso in search of a way to provide for his sister and his daughter. He takes advantage of his position in an illegal smuggling operation to get himself and his best friend Abas off of the continent. Ayiva adapts to life in Italy, but when tensions with the local community rise, things become increasingly dangerous. Determined to make his new situation work he attempts to weather the storm, but it has its costs.
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★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
shine a light through an open door
love and life I will divide
turn away 'cause I need you more
feel the heartbeat in my mind
it's the way I'm feeling I just can't deny
but I've gotta let it go
★★★★ review by maddie on Letterboxd
How am I going to explain why I'm crying on the floor every time Rihanna plays in public
★★★★ review by TJ D on Letterboxd
Mediterranean is a remarkably sad movie, and hit me hard in its final moments. It has a Top 10 or so final shot, as well as a really beautiful sad moment involving Rihanna and Skype that will stick for a while.
This is a tale of an African man's journey to Italy to find a better life, and provide for his daughter back in Africa. It's about the dangers of migrant worker life, and about how eventually, there is a tipping point. But, as with many of life's problems, re-accuring problems are not enough of a deterrent to cause someone to make change. The problems continue over and over and over.
It's a beautiful film, by a first time director. Recommended.
★★★½ review by Nicklas Barback on Letterboxd
A story of two men from Burkina Faso who immigrates to Italy. We get to follow the journey as well as their tough life in Italy. Nothing in the story surprises but everything is handled very well, very human and authentic. The film contains the best use of a Rihanna song since "Girlhood".
★★★½ review by Patrick Dunham on Letterboxd
A pair of friends from Burkina Faso seek a better life across the Mediterranean but encounter racist resistance in the comune of Rosarno when they are picked up and relocated by the Italian Navy. Living in shanties with other immigrants and working on an orchard, it's not the quality that had been expected but they continue on with hopes of improvement. Abas takes the conditions personally and builds up a testy bitterness against the locals whereas Ayiva schleps through the daily grind in the hopes of getting a work contract and visa for his daughter and sister to join him.
This first feature from Jonas Carpignano is based on 2010 riots in Rosarno, and with it's no-frills docudrama style this contemporary topic of Europe's immigration situation is captured with a sense of immediate, authentic realism akin to Cartel Land.
The film operates on a sense of naturalism, long takes, and no score, with diegetic music gradually seeping in from the solemnly quiet stretch where we first meet the two in Algeria to their Rihanna-filled social life amongst other immigrants in southern Italy. During the trek the camera never lingers on what could be startling images of bodies lost in transit, either shot or drowned, and from his reactions Ayiva's steadfast adaptability is established from the get-go.
This summer I have been studying abroad across from Calabria in Puglia, and there are many African immigrants that are integrated into the potpourri of nationalities with no anger or sense of otherness that I have observed or felt. But I am also in the comparatively large city of Lecce, not a municipality like Rosarno, where tensions could be more likely to arise amongst a predominately Italian population who see their environment as being seized out from under them.
A scene that stands out takes place in a nightclub in which Ayiva slowly realizes a large group of Italian men are watching him and his mostly African friends with foreshadowing menace, and fittingly this is the last nonviolent moment in the rising schism of race relations. Soon after there is a small riot in which the narrative's naturalism comes to full surface: in one take several cars are smashed then ignited, shop windows are broken, firebombs are thrown, all occurring in a previously serene, nondescipt street.
With the last bokeh blur of a shot that would get surely J.J. Abrams' seal of approval, Ayiva's symbolic choice to return home or stay in the contentious lands is left up for debate. While it is an ambiguous ending it is nowhere near the provocative ambivalence of The Lobster's conclusion, which begs dissidence in opinion and still has me wondering.
With Mediterranea's immediate social relevance and sweeping success on the festival circuit, Carpignano has established himself as a rising filmmaker who has widespread support in anything he may to choose to tackle for his next project.
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