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Hard-hitting migrant films tighten Venice race

Filmmaker wanted to break through Europeans' complacency

07 September, 11:41

(ANSA-AFP) - VENICE, SEP 7 - The blistering tale of an African's journey to Europe and a moving film about refugees at Poland's border, which has angered its government, have tightened the race at the Venice Film Festival. "Io Capitano", which premiered on Wednesday, is the latest from Italian director Matteo Garrone, known for his gritty mafia drama "Gomorrah". The epic drama follows two naive 16-year-olds who leave Senegal for Europe, only to find themselves robbed, tortured and enslaved along the route, and ultimately aboard a dangerously rickety boat to Italy. Garrone told reporters he wanted to break through Europeans' complacency about the migrants arriving by sea. "For years we've seen boats arriving across the Mediterranean -- sometimes they are saved, sometimes not," he said. "Over time, we've gotten used to thinking of these people as numbers and lost sight of the fact that behind the numbers there is a whole world of families, dreams, desires." The director said he wanted to "put the camera on the other side -- in Africa, pointing towards Europe -- to tell their journey and live it with them". His film arrived in Venice a day after another powerful drama about migrants, "Green Border", which focused on refugees trapped between the borders of Belarus and Poland in 2021. Critics were impressed, with The Guardian calling it a "brutal, angry, gruelling drama, in sombre black and white". But it triggered an angry response from her country's justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who compared it to Nazi propaganda because it criticised Poland. Its Polish director Agnieszka Holland, 74, told reporters in Venice: "Europe is in the process of losing its convictions." "We have to face the real challenge. Europe, the continent of freedom, democracy, human rights, will disappear... It will change to some kind of fortress where people who want to reach our continent will be killed by us, by Europeans," she said.

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