On April 13th, UNU-GCM was pleased to host a screening of Mediterranea, a film by Jonas Carpignano. The event included a commentary by Dr. Yosefa Loshitzky, Professorial Research Associate at the Centre for Media and Film Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and a lively discussion with the audience.
Mediterranea tells the story of two best friends who journey across desert and sea from Burkina Faso to Southern Italy in search of a better life, economically and otherwise. But when they arrive in Rosarno, the glittering snapshots they saw on Facebook detailing the immigrant’s life abroad do not match with the tough challenges they are met with in their new lives. One friend begins to assimilate through hard work and a sympathetic employer, who welcomes him into his family, while the other friend grows increasingly disillusioned with his hardscrabble reality. A vicious attack on the migrant community explodes into a full-blown riot, sending both friends into wildly different futures.
The film is unique in the that protaganists are sub-Saharan Africans, and the migration experience is seen through their eyes. It touched upon many relevant issues in the current migration debate, including smuggling, family, integration and racism and left the audience with much to think about.
After the screening, Professor Loshitzky offered her analysis of the film. She discussed how the film fits into the various genres of migration cinema as both the story of a journey of hope and the experience of arrival. She highlighted the tension in the hostile and hospitable ways that Italians received migrants.
The audience actively participated in the debate, reflecting on what most struck them in the film. One attendee drew attention to the subtle depiction of the gendered differences in the experiences of the male and female migrants. Another person commented on the generational differences in how Italians welcomed the migrants, suggesting that the fact that the youngest generation was the most curious and welcoming provides us with hope for the future.