New film on bird nests, you can help


This video from the USA says about itself:

Great Blue [Heron], How Do You Do?

25 April 2014

Andrew Young and the Pondemonium team try to get up close and personal with this majestic bird.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA, March 2016:

Casting Call! Introducing Pondemonium, a film that will feature your backyard birds! Courtesy of Archipelago Films.
Your Nest Could Be on the Big Screen!

The natural history film company Archipelago Films needs your help! They are currently producing a film about the native plants, birds, and animals that exist in our own backyards. The film is intended to re-engage the public with nature, and foster coexistence between humans and the incredible wildlife we share our planet with.

They’re asking you to keep an eye out for the nests of particular species and to contact them any time between now and Fall 2016 if you find a nest they might be able to film. Locations around New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are ideal, but they will travel for a really special nest! Target species include birds of prey including (but not limited to): Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, and Barn Owl, plus open-cup native songbirds such as Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals. Additionally, the filmmakers are looking for Wood Duck nests.

Rest assured, the filmmakers are animal-lovers and conservationists, so the well-being and safety of birds and animals will always be paramount if your nest is “cast”!

Benghazi, Hollywood propaganda and Syrian war reality


This (audio) video says about itself:

Matthew Alford on Military Media Manipulation (1/6)

4 August 2011

Matthew Alford has taught at the Universities of Bath and Bristol and is now an independent scholar working on issues of American cinema, power and politics.

Author of “Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy

And these five videos are the sequels.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Benghazi: The real story

Monday 21st March 2016

HOLLYWOOD, as lecturer Matthew Alford explains in his 2010 book Reel Power, “routinely promotes the dubious notion that the United States is a benevolent force in world affairs.”

Thus Michael Bay’s $50 million recent film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi tells the story of the September 11 2012 attack on the US consulate in Libya, which killed the US ambassador and three of his colleagues.

As with movies such as Black Hawk Down (2001) and Lone Survivor (2013) the audience watches as a small band of brave US servicemen heroically fight back against hundreds of faceless Arabs, with no apparent motive other than a hatred of Westerners.

13 Hours is clear about the benevolent intent of the US in Libya, with the initial credits explaining the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had an annex close to the US consulate, where operatives gathered intelligence to try their best to get weapons taken off the black market.

In an extensive February 2016 investigation into the US intervention in Libya, the New York Times repeats this official narrative, explaining the US “struggled against weapons proliferation” after Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi had been overthrown and killed.

However, a number of reports show there is far more to the story than the US government, 13 Hours and the New York Times would have us believe.

In August 2013 CNN reported that dozens of CIA operatives had been on the ground in Benghazi and that “the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing remains a secret.”

According to one source quoted by CNN, the CIA has been involved in an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out. All of which begs an obvious question: if the CIA were simply attempting to stop weapons proliferation in Libya, why would this need to be covered up?

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s reporting on US actions in Libya may provide the answer. According to an article he published in the London Review of Books in April 2014, the CIA, with the assistance of Britain’s MI6, set up a “rat line” to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya to Syria via southern Turkey. “The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,” says a former intelligence official quoted by Hersh.

Citing a classified annex to a US Senate intelligence committee report, Hersh notes the funding for the weapons transfers came from US allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A formerly classified October 2012 US Defence Intelligence Agency report echoes Hersh’s discovery, noting that “during the immediate aftermath of … the downfall of the [Gadaffi] regime in October 2011 … weapons from the former Libyan military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya, were shipped” to Syria. Importantly, the report explains the shipments ended in early September 2012 — the date the US consulate was attacked and when Hersh also says the shipments ended.

Michael Morrell, the former deputy director of the CIA, confirmed the existence of the weapons shipments in testimony to the US House intelligence committee in November 2012. However, the part of the transcript showing Morrell’s response to a question asking whether the CIA was involved in co-ordinating the weapons transfers is redacted. “Long story short: the CIA was watching closely as our allies transferred weapons to Syrian rebels,” explained the independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, summarising Morrell’s testimony and the CIA report.

So, while many of the details are fuzzy, it seems clear the US was transferring weapons from Libya to Syria or, at the very least, was fully aware its allies were doing this and did nothing. Weapons, it should be noted, that a plethora of experts and observers — from former Nato secretary-generals to the United Nations — have warned will only escalate and deepen the war in Syria.

In addition to contradicting the Establishment-promoted image of US-British power as benevolent and positive, the real story of Benghazi fatally undermines the dominant narrative that, as BBC Today programme presenter Nick Robinson recently noted, the Obama administration has had a “deep unwillingness to get engaged in” the Syrian war. Or, as well-respected think-tanker Shadi Hamid argues, US policy in Syria has been one of “defensive minimalism.” Furthermore, the Libyan-Syrian “rat line” story also highlights another inconvenient truth: Hersh notes that “many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida.”

If, as the independent media icon Amy Goodman has said, “the role of journalism is to go where the silences are,” then the CIA and MI6 role in Benghazi should be the first port of call for anyone looking to shine a light on the nefarious machinations of the Western powers in the Middle East.

Ian Sinclair is the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of February 15 2003, published by Peace News Press. He tweets @IanJSinclair

In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA.” (Nabih Bulos , W.J. Hennigan and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times)

Anne Frank’s diary, new film


This German video is the trailer of the new film The Diary of Anne Frank by Hans Steinbichler.

By Bernd Reinhardt in Germany:

66th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4:

Flight and persecution—yesterday and today (The Diary of Anne Frank and Meteorstraße)

14 March 2016

This is the fourth and final article on the recent 66th Berlin International Film Festival

“Only a few subjects in the world are known globally. Anne Frank is someone who one can speak to a Muslim about, and they know who you are talking about. Or people from Africa, they also know Anne Frank,” observed director Hans Steinbichler about his new and valuable film version of Anne Frank’s diary.

Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl appeared for the first time in German in 1950 (and in English in 1952) and has moved generations ever since. It has been translated into more than 60 languages.

Little more than 70 years after the death of the refugee Jewish girl—arrested in the Netherlands after escaping the Nazi threat in her native Germany—at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, millions of people are now fleeing from war and the lack of hope for the future around the world.

Refugees stranded in Germany with no perspective is the subject of a second memorable film, Meteorstraße by Aline Fischer.

The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the best known and moving testimonies of life under Nazi rule in Europe. Together with her parents Otto Frank (Ulrich Noethen) and Edith (Martina Gedeck), and sister Margot (Stella Kunkat), Anne (Lea van Acken) flees from Frankfurt in 1933 to the Netherlands to escape the Hitler regime. No longer safe in Amsterdam, the Jewish family conceal themselves in 1942 in the back rooms of an unused part of Otto Frank’s business.

Two families and a Jewish dentist from Berlin, a total of eight people, live in 50 square metres for two years until their hideout is betrayed and discovered in August 1944. Only Anne’s father Otto survived the concentration camp and ensured the publication of the diary.

The material has been adapted for the theatre and filmed numerous times. The George Stevens’ film with Millie Perkins (1959), based on a play, is one of the most prominent. There is also an opera based on Anne’s story.

Hans Steinbichler’s moving new version focuses directly on the ever-present lack of space: darkened windows, hardly any private sphere, rarely any relaxation. There is always the fear that workers in the floors below will hear something. Only during their dinner break, at nights and weekends is it possible to move freely and speak normally. Even the use of the toilet is strictly regulated due to the sound of flushing. The only contact with the outside is via a radio and with close collaborators, who at extreme risk procure the daily necessities of life for the hidden families. The atmosphere becomes increasingly tense as time passes, arguments break out over trivialities and the group become less careful.

Lea van Acken is very convincing as Anne Frank, an adolescent girl for whom any kind of confinement is insufferable. She resists regulations, and is also firmly against any intellectual restraints. Her entire being is directed towards life, to the future. She is contemptuous of her mother due to her patience and Petronella van Daan (Margarita Broich) for her narrow-mindedness. Anne stubbornly defends her writing as it becomes clear to her that her diaries are more than just a pastime. The actress’ sensitive portrayal focuses on the fragile, uncertain and unforgiving in Anne. It is precisely her contradictions that reveal her potential. The ending is thus even more brutal, when Anne peers at the camera with a shaved head.

The film makes clear that people who were in all respects no different from other Germans were turned into the hunted and into victims by the obligation of wearing a yellow star on their clothing. Only such a star on clothes left on a beach incites a group of young Dutch Nazis to force a girl swimming in the sea to leave.

Jewish traditions play a very subordinate role in the Frank family. At birthdays, the popular German song “Many best wishes and blessings” is sung. Anne goes to a Montessori school until the Nazis ban it. Otto fought as a German patriot in the First World War. When it emerges during their arrest that the man standing before the SS soldier is a former German officer who fought for his “fatherland,” the soldier is somewhat confused, and even shows a certain respect.

In a morbid way, the arrest initially appears for a short moment to be somewhat liberating, from the unbearable and inhumane situation. One of the Nazis cannot believe the family lived concealed for two years. Bathed in sunlight, they emerge onto the street for the first time after this long period, only shortly afterwards to climb into a darkened truck to be deported.

The contemporary significance of the film is obvious and also intentional. Walid Nakschbandi, one of the producers, was born in Afghanistan. In the early 1980s, his parents sent him and his siblings to Germany for a better future. A German teacher recommended Anne Frank’s diary to the 14-year-old Walid to help improve his German language skills. Prior to this film, he helped produce the television series My Daughter Anne Frank (directed by Raymond Ley, 2015) about Otto Frank.

This January, on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day, Eva Schloss, the step-sister of Anne Frank who lives in London, publicly compared the situation facing Syrian refugees with her own during the Nazi era. The Auschwitz survivor declared that she was shocked that so many countries were closing their borders. “Fewer people would have died in the Holocaust if the world had accepted more Jewish refugees.” Eva Schloss stated that Anne Frank and her family would probably not have died if the United States had approved Otto Frank’s desperate application in 1940.

This fact is hardly known and not referred to in the film. It also emerged only a few years ago that the Gestapo officer Karl Josef Silberbauer, who arrested the Frank family, was able to continue to work in his area of expertise after the war. Now under a “democratic” flag. He worked for the notorious Gehlen organisation (named after Wehrmacht general Reinhard Gehlen, one of the leading figures in German intelligence during World War II), the West German spy agency set up by the CIA in 1946 to spy on the USSR and Eastern Europe. The Gehlen organisation employed many former Nazis, including several implicated in war crimes. Silberbauer later worked directly for the BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service.

Hardly anyone was held accountable for the Frank arrests and deaths. An investigation into Silberbauer was halted in 1964 because the SS man had acted under orders. He died in Vienna in 1972 without ever having been convicted. According to Enttarnt by Peter-Ferdinand Koch, Silberbauer’s boss in Amsterdam, only known as Wilhelm H., continued working for the BND after the war. Later, the jurist became a senior government official in the Bavarian ministry of the interior.

Race, film about athlete Jesse Owens


This october 2015 video from the USA is called Race Official Trailer #1 (2016) Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis Biographical Drama Movie HD.

By Alan Gilman and David Walsh in the USA:

Race: Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics

10 March 2016

Directed by Stephen Hopkins; written by Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse

Race chronicles the storied athletic career of Jesse Owens, which culminated in his four gold medal performance at the 1936 Nazi-sponsored Berlin Olympics.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins, the film begins in 1933 with a young Owens (Stephan James) arriving at Ohio State University to run track. Owens is immediately confronted with racial bigotry, particularly from members of the all-white football team.

His track coach, Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), recognizes Owens as an extraordinary talent. Snyder impresses on the youthful athlete that if he demonstrates single-minded, fanatical focus he will be unstoppable, not only on the college level, but also at the 1936 Olympic Games to be held in Berlin.

Owens follows Snyder’s advice, despite the pressures of fatherhood (he has a baby daughter with his girlfriend, Ruth Solomon (Shanice Branton). He quickly becomes a top collegiate track athlete, and in 1935 at a meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan performs the astonishing feat of breaking three world records (long jump, 220-yard dash and 220 low hurdles) and tying a fourth (100-yard dash) in 45 minutes. This is widely considered one of the greatest single-day performances in athletic history.

Meanwhile, a campaign is underway within the American Olympic Committee, led by Judge Jeremiah Mahoney (William Hurt), to boycott the Berlin Games because of Nazi racism and anti-Semitism.

Avery Brundage (Jeremy Irons), a builder and real estate developer, and future International Olympic Committee president, leads the anti-boycott forces. Brundage shrugs off Germany’s anti-Semitic and racial issues, “It’s not our place to tell a sovereign nation what to do, and besides, when was the last time any of you nay-voters socialized with a Jew or a Negro?”

To help resolve this dispute Brundage agrees to embark on a fact-finding mission to Germany and meets with Joseph Goebbels (Barnaby Metschurat), the Nazi propaganda minister, who “promises” the Germans will not discriminate against any athlete, including Jews. With this agreement in hand, Brundage is able to defeat the boycott forces by a vote of 58 to 56.

Later, during the Olympics, when the Germans break their promise not to discriminate, Goebbels quickly puts an end to Brundage’s feeble protests by threatening to expose a commercial agreement—essentially a bribe—the two parties have entered into.

Other groups, including the NAACP, continue to support boycotting the Olympics, and place pressure on Owens. Ultimately, with the support of his family, he decides to go to the 1936 Games.

In Berlin, Owens is surprised to find that within the Olympic Village the American athletes are housed in integrated housing, something that never occurred in the US. Outside the Olympic venue, however, we see scenes of Jews being beaten and rounded up by the Nazis.

Owens proceeds to win four gold medals, in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter race, long jump and 400-meter relay. He is the most successful, and wildly popular, athlete at the Games and is credited with having delivered a devastating blow to the Nazi myth of “Aryan supremacy.”

In one of the more poignant scenes in the film, German long jumper Carl “Luz” Long (David Kross), the European champion, befriends Owens. After Owens fouls on the first two of his three attempts to qualify for the long jump, Long marks a spot several inches in front of the takeoff board, pointing out to Owens that if he takes off from there he will still jump far enough to qualify. Owens does just that and then goes on to defeat Long, who wins the silver medal.

Long is the first to congratulate Owens after the event, shaking his hand. The pair pose for photos and run a victory lap together.

That evening Long explains to Owens that he detests the Nazis for what they are doing and that many other Germans feel the same. At the end of Race there is an acknowledgement that Owens and Long continued their friendship for several more years and that the German athlete was killed in Sicily during World War II.

Owens’ last race is the 4 x 100 relay, an event that he has not trained for and is not scheduled to run. He participates because the team’s only two Jewish athletes, Marty Glickman (Jeremy Ferdman) and Sam Stoller (Giacomo Gianniotti), are benched at the last minute, on the demand of the German authorities. (Glickman went on to become one of the most prominent and talented American sportscasters in the postwar period, the voice of several New York sports teams, only retiring in 1992.)

As the film ends, a title notes that Owens was never invited to the White House or congratulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

There are some valuable elements and moving moments in Race. The story of Owens’ accomplishments, in the face of considerable odds, inevitably touches on some significant historical questions.

Jesse Owens was the youngest of 10 children born to Mary Emma Fitzgerald and Henry Cleveland Owens, a sharecropper, in Oakville, Alabama. His impoverished family took part in the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest and West, moving to Cleveland’s east side in the early 1920s. Owens’ father and older brother worked in steel mills, the former only irregularly.

As the result of his athletic prowess, Owens stumbled onto the stage of world politics in the 1930s. The opposition of Avery Brundage, head of the Olympic movement in the US, to a boycott of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, held under the aegis of the Nazi regime, had a significant ideological and political content.

Historian Carolyn Marvin explains that the foundation of Brundage’s world outlook “was the proposition that Communism was an evil before which all other evils were insignificant.” His other views or beliefs included “admiration for Hitler’s apparent restoration of prosperity and order to Germany,” the conception “that those who did not work for a living in the United States were an anarchic human tide, and a suspicious anti-Semitism which feared the dissolution of Anglo-Protestant culture in a sea of ethnic aspirations.” Brundage described opposition to American participation in Berlin as a “Jewish-Communist conspiracy.”

The vile machinations of the Hitler regime in regard to the Olympics are also part of the historical record. The leading Nazi newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, editorialized in the strongest terms that no Jews or blacks from any country should be permitted to compete. Faced with the possibility of an international boycott, however, the Nazi government relented, even adding one token participant, a female fencer with a Jewish father, to the German team.

The fascist regime also temporarily took down signs denouncing Jews from areas of Berlin where visitors were likely to see them. The German Ministry of the Interior instructed the city’s police to round up all Romani as part of a “clean up” and place them in a concentration camp. Pro-Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl was in charge of filming the Olympics (she is portrayed ambiguously in Race by Carice van Houten), and produced her grandiose two-part documentary, Olympia (1938).

Racism and the Depression in the US, fascism and anti-communism, the run-up to the Second World War … big issues all of them.

Hopkins’ Race refers directly to a few of these questions, hints at others and merely side-steps another category.

The film suffers from a generally formulaic approach. James and Branton as Jesse Owens and Ruth Solomon are given little dramatic room to breathe. Their conventional, roller-coaster relationship does not shed much light on their personalities or the nature of the times. Nor does Owens’ affair with a woman he meets on the road as a now-famous athlete or his relations with his coach help out much. There is something hagiographic about the presentation of Owens in particular, although certain of his failings come in for treatment.

The general dramatic arc of Race is predictable—initial difficulties, first successes, crisis and failure, final triumph. Even if the viewer did not know ahead of time how Owens would ultimately fare in Berlin, he or she would have little difficulty in seeing what was coming.

Sudeikis is more impressive as Snyder. The actor-comic has performed amusingly in a number of works, but smugness (for example, in the Horrible Bosses films) has threatened to sabotage his efforts. Here he is relatively convincing as Owens’ hard-driven, but fair-minded coach. Irons is always on the mark, although the portrayal of Brundage is not as devastating as it might have been. Kross (The Reader) is memorable as Luz Long, as is Metschurat as the menacing, monstrous Goebbels and Andrew Moodie, in a small part, as Owens’ long-suffering father.

To its credit, the film is not laced with identity politics, but a more “old fashioned” liberal humanism. Race, despite its title, preaches a sort of solidarity of Jews, blacks and anti-Nazi Germans against Hitler and pro-fascist Americans.

There are distinct limitations to this approach. Hopkins’ presentation of various racist and anti-Semitic incidents, although moving, is largely devoid of any historical content or deeper understanding of the social forces involved.

The weakest aspect of Race is its attitude to the various questions of political or moral principle that arise: the first involves US participation or boycott of the Berlin Olympics; the second, Owens’ decision to go or stay home; and, finally, the exclusion of the Jewish athletes from the relay race and the response of the rest of the American Olympic team.

In each case, Hopkins and screenwriters Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse create justifications for the various, often self-serving decisions taken by the characters, thus allowing the narrative to move forward toward its inexorable conclusion.

Pro-peace actor Mark Rylance gets Oscar


This video from England says about itself:

Mark RylanceDon’t bomb Syria – Nov. 28th 2015

Protest outside Downing Street, London. Organised by Stop The War Coalition. Protesting against the UK governments newly proposed attacks against Syria.

By Bethany Rielly in Britain:

Oscar win for man of peace Rylance

Tuesday 1st March 2016

PEACE activist Mark Rylance won Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards on Sunday night — the most high-profile award to go to a Brit this year.

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) ambassador was awarded an Oscar for his role in Steven Spielberg’s cold war thriller Bridge of Spies, beating favourite Sylvester Stallone.

Mr Rylance has supported StWC and the wider peace movement for 15 years, attending and speaking at many rallies including November’s Don’t Bomb Syria march.

“We don’t accept violence as a solution for problems in any other area of society,” said Mr Rylance outside Downing Street.

“Why are we still being told that this is the way our international problems must be resolved?”

StWC congratulated Mr Rylance on his win yesterday and thanked him for years of support and involvement in its campaigns.

“Mark is a obviously a very fine actor and I very much hope he enjoys every minute of the Oscar celebration, but he is also a man of conviction and principled opposition to war and a fine ambassador of Stop the War,” said national convener Lindsey German.

“He has contributed generously with both his time and his creative energy to our movement over the years and everyone in Stop the War sends their congratulations to him as one of our own anti-war heroes.”

Sunday was a political night all round, with many speakers commenting on the absence of black nominees. Even host Chris Rock described the event as “the white people’s choice awards.”

Chile Wins First Oscar With Dictatorship-Inspired Animated Film


JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Sources:  TeleSURThe Wrap
February 28 2016

Gabriel Osario bear story chile oscar.pngGabriel Osorio and Pato Escala’s Bear Story won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. It is Chile’s first ever Oscar Academy Award. | Photo: Bear Story


The animated short Bear Story tells the story of a sad bear torn away from his family, a symbol of the suffering under Chile’s military dictatorship.

Source:  TeleSUR
February 28 2016

A Chilean filmmaker made history on Sunday, bringing home the first ever Oscar Academy Award for the South American country with the animated film Bear Story, winner of the Best Animated Short.

“Bear Story” is an ingenious, dazzling piece of 3D animation, the sad story of a lonesome bear who builds an elaborate mechanical diorama in an attempt to remember (and perhaps recover) the life he used to live with his wife and son, before he was ripped from his home and sent to a…

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Film Fire at Sea about refugees


This video says about itself:

Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare) 2016 Film Trailer

8 February 2016

The documentary captures life on the Italian island of Lampedusa, a frontline in the European migrant crisis. Situated some 200km off Italy’s southern coast, Lampedusa has hit world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe.

Rosi spent months living on the Mediterranean island, capturing its history, culture and the current everyday reality of its 6,000-strong local population as hundreds of migrants land on its shores on a weekly basis. The resulting documentary focuses on 12-year-old Samuele, a local boy who loves to hunt with his slingshot and spend time on land even though he hails from a culture steeped in the sea.

By Bernd Reinhardt in Germany:

66th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 2:

A critique of Europe’s refugee policy: On the Berlinale’s Golden Bear for Fire at Sea

By Bernd Reinhardt

27 February 2016

This is the second in a series of articles on the recent Berlin international film festival, the Berlinale, held February 11-20, 2016. Part 1 was posted February 22.

The Golden Bear award at this year’s Berlinale went to Fuocoammare (Fire At Sea). For the first time in 60 years, a documentary film secured the top award in the competition. The jury thereby not only selected an artistically outstanding film, but also took a highly political decision, since the documentary deals with the refugee crisis on Lampedusa, an issue which is currently engaging millions of people and threatening to tear apart the European Union.

Fire At Sea is the title of an Italian hit song from the 1950s, based on the Second World War and the dangerous conditions for fishermen who went to sea during artillery fire.

Italian director Gianfranco Rosi focuses on a current war front: Europe’s border with the war-torn countries of the Middle East and North Africa—a region thousands of people flee from, and risk the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean island of Lampedusa has long been their point of arrival. Previously, the boats landed on the coast. But now the unsafe craft and smuggling boats are intercepted by the EU border protection agency Frontex at sea, and the refugees are isolated from the local population. Rosi’s film depicts two separate worlds living alongside each other.

He sensitively observes daily life on the island. Rosi spent a year on location to prepare his film. Can there be any normalcy at all on this island? The main protagonist is 12-year-old Samuele, a fisherman’s son. At first glance, his life appears undisturbed by the refugee crisis. He goes to school, does homework and wanders the island with his friends.

Samuele is bright and curious. He grows up with the sea, learning to row by rowing between two moored boats in the harbour. Most of all, he enjoys playing war games with his friend; they shoot with slingshots at birds or cacti in which they have carved faces, before carefully putting them back together with black tape. “Let’s stop,” his friend says. “You have already killed them all.”

From the coastal rocks, Samuele sees patrol boats going around the island to intercept refugee boats. Radio news broadcasts also report about them, and about the deaths. “Poor devils,” murmurs Maria, Samuele’s aunt, as she peels potatoes. She knows what it means to be at the mercy of the sea. Her husband, a fisherman, is like many others frequently at sea for long periods of time.

The camera shifts to a request show on a radio broadcaster. Maria has requested the song “Fuocoammare”. She dedicates it to her old father. She tells Samuele of his grandfather’s fear of fishing at night. It was the Second World War, and sometimes the sea was red.

Rosi experiences the other side of daily life when he goes offshore with the rescue boats. “What is your position?” is the typical question on the boat’s radio with which the film opens. On the other end of the line, a panicked voice can be heard, “Please help.” A refugee boat, full of women and children, is in the process of sinking.

The camera takes in a rescue scene as sick refugees are loaded into a patrol boat, including a completely dehydrated young man who will perhaps not make it. The others get on board a navy ship. Men with masks and rubber gloves indicate one direction, and push people in another. They cry, “Mali here,” “Chad,” “Syria there.” They are registered, sorted, numbered and photographed, as if they are dealing with freight. A boy can no longer speak or hear, and his body shows signs of beatings. “Are you from Syria?” Frontex officials demand repeatedly from him. He is unable to answer.

Brought on land, men, women and children wait in the dark for first aid and further transportation. They are wrapped in shiny foil, the face of one fearful and apathetic, the other with a glimmer of hope. A group of Africans strike up a rap song telling of the trials and tribulations they have come through: hunger, waterless desert, sea, sickness and death. The loud singing is painful to the ear. At another point, they relax playing football: Eritrea against Syria.

In contrast, there are the humiliating searches by police officers, who complain about the smell of diesel emanating from the refugees. A lit match would set us on fire, complains one of the police officers.

Refugees have to refill the fuel during the journey, explains the island doctor Pietro Bartolo. This results in dangerous injuries, because the diesel and sea water becomes a corrosive substance when mixed. He shows Rosi the shocking picture of a 14-year-old, whose body shows signs of chemical burns in several places.

The doctor, who cares for the locals, including Samuele, as well as the refugees, is a link between the island’s inhabitants and the refugees. The camera is present as he examines a woman bearing twins with an ultrasound scan. Bartolo is alarmed when he cannot find the head of one twin. He remarks, “Everything is all over the place here, legs, arms, head—no wonder with all they had to go through.”

It is particularly difficult for the doctor to examine the many bodies: dead children or dead pregnant women, or women who die on the boat immediately after giving birth. Colleagues believe he is used to it now, Bartolo says. But that is impossible. At the awards ceremony in Berlin he sharply criticised the EU’s refugee policy.

The director also indicated his shock over his experiences with the rescue missions. He said in an interview, “We are currently experiencing a human tsunami, around 60 million people are fleeing around the world from war, hunger and misery. They cannot be contained with fences and walls. … Europe cannot barricade itself off.”

At the conclusion of the film, he directs the camera to dozens of intertwined dead bodies on the bottom of a refugee boat. “After that I could not continue to film,” said Rosi. With this picture, he wanted to document what happened. “What would it have been like if cameras were present during the Holocaust?”

The life of young Samuele is only seemingly separate from those of the refugees. The director noted in an interview that much became “a regular metaphor for mine, for our perception of the refugees.” An example is the glasses with which the doctor instructs the young boy to cover his right eye. He has to train his “lazy” left eye, Bartolo says. This refers to those who, confronted with the refugee tragedy, remain blind in one eye, according to the director.

When Samuele develops a stomach bug and is sick during a boat trip with his father, the father advises his son to train his stomach by standing on the swaying jetty. The doctor’s diagnosis is that it was fear. Samuele begins to become aware of his environment, the director explained. “For me, that was a good picture of our relationship to the current situation.”

The end of the film shows Samuele on a swaying jetty, with an imaginary machine gun firing wildly in the air. This conclusion, and the film as a whole, is fulfilling. It is not only a criticism of the EU’s inhumane policies on the borders, but it also raises the issue of the causes for this drama. Without referring to the wars in Syria and North Africa by name, they are present.

But here, the film remains vague and avoids taking a position. The European powers are exploiting the refugee crisis to intervene militarily themselves in the name of “combatting causes of flight”. They are not concerned with “human rights”, but in participating in the scramble for raw materials and strategic advantage. The refugee tragedy threatens to expand into a global war and a catastrophe for humanity as a whole.

The frenetic applause from German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the awards ceremony for Fuocoammare, and Italian Prime Minister Renzi’s announcement that he would distribute a DVD of the film at the next EU refugee conference, should be taken as warnings.