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Venice Film Festival: 'Io Capitano' tells dreadful journey to Europe of Senegalese migrants

Io Capitano" presented in competition at the 80th Venice Film Festival on September 6, 2023 at Venice Lido.   -  
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Actors Seydou Sarr and Moustapha Fall star in Matteo Garrone's new drama "Io Capitano" ("Me Captain").

The film had its premiere at the 80th Venice International Film Festival, Wednesday (Sep. 06).

It is about two young men, Seydou and Moussa, who leave Dakar to reach Europe.

Their contemporary Odyssey takes them through the horrors of detention centres in Libya and the hazards of the sea.

It was important for Matteo Garrone to tackle the theme of immigration from Africa to Europe.

"For years, decades now, we have been seeing boats arriving on the Mediterranean. Sometimes they save [the people onboard] them, sometimes they don't," the director says.

"There is the ritual counting of the living, of the dead. Over time, you get used to imagining these people as numbers and you lose sight of the fact that there is a world behind it. There are families with dreams, there are many wishes."

"And the idea, in fact, is to put the camera on the other side, that is, from Africa. Point it from Africa to Europe. So, to tell their journey and above all to live it with them from their point of view, trying to give a visual form to all that part of the journey that someone knows, someone doesn't, but that usually doesn't have a visual form in the West. So, the whole part linked to the journey through Africa, the desert, the detention camps in Libya and then the first part of the journey at sea," the director of "Io Capitano" concludes.

The 2-hour-1-minute film is inspired by the real-life story of Mamadou Kouassi, who collaborated on the script.

He shared with the director the story of his dangerous trip to Italy when he was only 20 years old.

He shared with the director the story of his dangerous trip to Italy when he was only 20 years old .

"During the trip we meet people who said, 'Guys, this isn't child's game. We don't recommend doing it because we've seen people die.' We spend days thinking about it and then we decide to take this trip. So, this journey is really being told, first of all, as I experienced it."

'Visas can help reduce human trafficking'

"This film highlights how much suffering we have suffered and continue to suffer," Kouassi told the press.

"It is a film in which Matteo (Garrone) was courageous to stigmatize everything that we have experienced and that we live today, and therefore also for Europe, to understand that there is a way to combat human trafficking. Give the possibility of obtaining a visa to travel freely, the same way you can also travel from Europe, those who go to Africa can travel safely."

The Belgian-Italian co-production was filmed in Morocco, Italy and Senegal over 13 weeks, with a cast of non-professional actors.

American filmmaker Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash," "La La Land") serves as Jury President for the main competition at the La Biennale Di Venezia.

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