It was a multiple 2016 Spirit Award nominee in the Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay and Best Male Lead categories; the filmmaker, Jonas Carpignano, won the Breakthrough director award at the 25th Gotham Awards Winners for his unflinching immigrant struggles tale, “Mediterranea;” and now the film is available on Netflix (USA) after a very limited theatrical run in New York City, courtesy of Sundance Selects. Add it to your #WorldRefugeeDay watch-lists.
One of three films selected to contend for the 2015 prestigious LUX Film Prize, Carpignano’s debut feature was picked up by Sundance Selects after its Cannes Film Festival debut last year. The topical drama that made its world premiere at the La Semaine de la Critique (International Critics’ Week) – a parallel section of the Cannes Film Festival that focuses on discovering new talents – follows a young Burkinabe man who leaves his native Burkina Faso in search of a better life, making the perilous journey to Italy, only to find he’s unprepared for the intolerance facing immigrants in that country.
Carpignano’s film assesses the very fragile and topical issue of Mediterranean crossings by immigrants seeking freedom and safety. Two Burkinabe migrants (played by Koudous Seihon, Alassane Sy) face hostility and violence as they try to make better lives for themselves in Italy.
The 30-year-old filmmaker, with a mother originally from Barbados and an Italian father, broached familiar territory in his multiple award winning short film entitled “A Chjàna,” 4 years ago. His latest feature, “A Ciambra,” premiered to high praise at the Cannes Film Festival last month. It too is based on a short film that won the Discovery Award at the 53rd Critics’ Week at Cannes. Carpignano also participated in the Sundance Writers & Directors Lab in 2012 and was awarded the Mahindra / Sundance GFA Award.
He’s a filmmaker you should know, and whose work you should be aware of.
Cineuropa spoke to the filmmaker ahead of the LUX event late last year; It’s a brief but worth watching Q&A as Carpignano raps on a few key points, notably on the so-called “timeliness” of his feature debut, “Mediterranea.” As the filmmaker notes, “Mediterranea” wasn’t necessarily made to be topical or timely; it’s a project that’s very close to him, and that he’d been working on for years, before all the media attention that is currently being focused on the many thousands of refugees from continental Africa (and elsewhere), making long and dangerous treks in hopes of better lives in the European Union.
He also talks about the specificity and what he hopes will be the power of the film to potentially affect change, no matter how small, and more.
The interview is at the bottom of this post.
First watch a trailer for “Mediterranea” and check out the quiet (the trailer doesn’t represent to film’s tempo), unflinching drama right now on Netflix as part of your #WorldRefugeeDay viewing.