is not a “making of” behind-the-scenes documentary. It is an examination of several culture
clashes. When Emanuele Crialese’s crew
went to the Mediterranean island of Linosa to shoot the immigration drama Terraferma, they hired many real life
refugees from North African to relive their experiences as extras on the production. Rather than produce a publicity film, Antonio
Tibaldi scrupulously captured their ironic experiences in [s]comparse (trailer
recent winner of the Spirit Award in the documentary category at the 2012 Brooklyn Film Festival.
by Italy as its most recent foreign language Oscar submission, Terraferma is not a bad film that has
had a fair amount of festival play (including this year’s San Francisco
International Film Festival). Though it bemoans
the laws forbidding citizens from sailing to the rescue of drowning would-be
illegal immigrants, its primary characters are all native Italians. This fact is not lost on Terraferma’s North African cast-members.
the treatment of refugees is the driving issue of [s]comparse, the film crew’s hypocrisy is never papered over. Not so shockingly, wages are a contentious
issue and the concept of withholding tax comes as a rather unpleasant surprise
to the somewhat disgruntled extras.
Though not always enlightened in their attitudes, local islanders also
start to feel the demanding film crew is abusing their hospitality.
from some interviews with the migrant actors, [s]comparse is a quiet, fly-on-the-beach observational-style
documentary. Linosa still looks like a
beautiful place to visit, but the graveyard of stripped-down boats, abandoned
on the shore by those fortunate enough not to be swallowed-up by the sea,
clearly testifies to the magnitude of the situation.
an extent, [s]comparse cuts both ways,
openly siding with the global downtrodden and distressed, but also highlighting
the self-serving pretenses of a film ostensibly advocating on their behalf. Of course, it is easier to pick up on the latter
if you have actually seen Terraferma. It would be fascinating to watch them
programmed together at a festival, but that is probably not likely to
To his credit, Tibaldi never belabors his
points, wrapping it all up in just over an hour. Sure to find its niche on the festival
circuit as Terraferma develops its
own, [s]comparse is easily
recommended for followers of Italian cinema and international refugee issues.
Labels: BFF '12, Documentary, Italian Cinema