Jakob Brossman: Lampedusa in Winter

Taken from the site of the Magnificent7 festival in Belgrade (http://www.magnificent7festival.org/en/) this text is written by festival directors Svetlana and Zoran Popovic about the film to be shown tonight at the Sava Center in Belgrade:

Is there anything emptier than idyllic summer resorts in the wintertime? Jakob Brossman arrives with his crew, at such a moment of calm and low tide, when all small local problems become big events, and their main protagonists begin to resemble characters of Fellini films. On Lampedusa this is all tinged by the big, unwanted looming shadow, the drama and present of the People from the Boats, rescued in dramatic operations from storms and high seas, sometimes successfully, often not, but always at great risk. And to top it all off – discussions recalling the spirited traditions of the debate forums of the ancient world – can the fisherman survive, will Lampedusa get a ferry, what are the Africans doing in front of the church? With humor and conviviality of the Mediterranean spirit, with a lot of sound and fury, but with empathy and true understanding for the human condition. A story told in rich layers, of the clash of worlds – of Africa v. Europe, the island v. the mainland, provincial outposts v. the center, and inescapably poor v. rich.

It is certain that suffering and victims often cloud our view of the

saviors and those who welcome them, and Jakob Brossman chose to focus this documentary, about one of the greatest problems Europe is facing, through the unexpected prism of an inverted lens. Ironically showing us where the cameras “of the eyes of the world” are pointed and all the things this “all-seeing” gaze misses, the authors of the film observe carefully, analyzing even more carefully, and building a complex dramaturgical structure and composition. This specific and subtle approach allows for a unique insight into a phenomenon that has been dealt with countless time, leading towards a true culmination – an exceptionally exciting documented dramatic rescue operation in which for the first time we experience concern for all involved, for the equally endangered rescuers and drowning wretched of the sea.

A fantastic documentary of a developed spirited Mediterranean story which involves us deeper as we watch – we fear, we are entertained, we get angry, we scold and shout, we suffer and finally, all together we discover that behind it all stands a cold and distant, untouchable figure of power!

Director’s Word: Lampedusa is a beautiful place, a fantastic holiday destination; there are people there who understand life, even though at times they have to struggle with the very basics.

There are lots of camera crews on Lampedusa, especially in the period immediately after any tragedy. They generally adopt the same approach and ask the same questions. In our case, people noticed that we came in winter, and that we stayed – and if I asked any questions at all, they were not the usual ones. I had a fantastic interpreter; without her I wouldn’t have been able to overcome the language barrier. People came to appreciate the fact that we really wanted to understand the situation and the people.


Austria, Italy, Switzerland 2015, 93 minutes

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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