Jonas Carpignano
Jonas Carpignano

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” – a film that’s available on various home video platforms in the USA (it previously received a very limited theatrical run in New York City, courtesy of Sundance Selects).

One of three films selected to contend for the 2015 prestigious LUX Film Prize, Carpignano’s debut feature made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2 years ago. The still very relevant drama that screened in the La Semaine de la Critique (International Critics’ Week) segment – 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.

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,” 5 years ago. His last short film, “A Ciambra,” which won the Discovery Award at the 53rd Critics’ Week at Cannes, has also now become a feature film that’s also making its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival which just kicked off its 2017 festivities.

We learned this week that “A Ciambra” (the feature film) is the first project selected for Martin Scorsese’s new emerging filmmaker fund, which will be unveiled at Cannes.

Still without an official name, the emerging filmmaker fund is a partnership between Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff’s Sikelia Productions, and Rodrigo Teixeira’s Brazil-based RT Features.

“A Ciambra” was a film Scorsese and company actually scouted, so there wasn’t an official call for entries: “Marty and I work with the team at RT and WME [William Morris Endeavor] to find filmmakers who have strong visual reels… Then we read scripts, and if we all come to a consensus, we work with the filmmaker to finish the process of development, and help them plan production.” said Koskoff to Screen International magazine.

However, the report says that there will be open calls for filmmakers to submit projects for consideration by the fund, which will support films budgeted at under $3 million ideally.

No word at this time on how exactly qualified emerging filmmakers can submit projects for consideration, but there’s a chance that we’ll learn a lot more about the fund before the festival ends on the 28th.

After tackling immigration from the POV of 2 men from Burkina Faso trying to get to Italy in the gritty “Mediterranea,” Carpignano’s “A Ciambra” revolves around a street-wise young Roma boy called Pio, and features amateur actors from the Southern Italy community in which it’s set.

The film has yet to screen at the ongoing festival, so no early reviews yet.

In the meantime, you’re strongly encouraged to check out Jonas’ feature debut, “Mediterranea,” which you’ll find on various home video formats. Trailer below.