Tuesday, 18 June 2019

On Sydney's Channel 32 - Barrie Pattison recommends TERRAFERMA (Emanuele Crialese, Italy, 2011)

Tucked away at noon Wednesday on Channel 32 is Emanuele (Respiro) Crialese’s Terraferma, possibly the best film yet made about the European migrant crisis - up there with Philippe Lioret’s 2011 Welcome and Moussa Touré’s 2012 La pirogue. It should have got the foreign language Oscar it was up for. 

On a Sicilian island resembling Linosa, the fishermen are resentful of the Africans filling their detention centres  and the Carabiniere who confiscate the fishing boats they depend on for their living on suspicion of their aiding the I clandestini immigrants.

The family of Donatella Finocchiaro, (the film’s most recognisable face - Bellochio’s 2006 Il regista di matrimoni and Roberta Torre’s 2002 Angela) are moving out of their home which they plan on renting to summer tourists when grandfather Mimmo Cuticchio unswervingly follows the sailor’s code and rescues Africans he finds floating in the ocean. The cops take a dim view of that and impound his boat for people smuggling.

So far predictable but the already involving film has a couple of scenes that swerve away from what we are used to seeing. Pregnant African mother Timnit T. is overwhelmed with gratitude when they take her in and thanks Finocchiaro profusely only to be told that the Italians hate her for making their miserable lives even more desperate.

Also the family’s red scooter riding son picks up one of the girl tourists that arrive with the cut to the wallowing ship bringing in bikini wearing foreigners. He takes her out at night in the row boat which is all that is left them when they hear a thrashing sound and line of white water advances towards them. 

I’m not altogether sold on the ending but after this they could break out in Gilbert and Sullivan and still have an outstanding film.

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