by Sherif Awad
It is the Christmas season, as I write, and likely that dozens of African people are now trying to cross the Sub-Sahara towards the Mediterranean Sea, their gateway to European shores where dreams of
making a living are calling every day.
We have seen it before, not only on our TV screens while watching the news, but also in many documentaries and narratives released over the past few years. The drama 14 Kilometers, by Spanish director Gerardo Olivares tells the story of Mukela who decides to travel to Spain, believing his
brother Buba might have a shot as a professional soccer player. Unable to travel legally into Europe, they pay a smuggler $2000 dollars for passage on the back of truck that will take them from the desert to the shores of Algeria.
In the documentary Foreign (2011), German director Miriam Fassbender follows the tracks of Mohamed, a young Malian man traveling the oldest routes that migrants take from Algeria to Morocco and finally to Spain. In the documentary Adrift, French reporter Dominique Christian Mollard decided to complete the last leg of this very well known route by jumping onboard a canoe
carrying African migrants on a dangerous crossing from Mauritania to the Canary Islands. The documentary shows us how thousands of people die every year when they take such primitive fishing boats in an attempt to make it on the dangerous crossing from West Africa to Spain.
While all of the aforementioned films focus on the unsuccessful attempts of Africans
to cross the borders into Europe, the Critics’ Week Section of Cannes Festival last May shed light on the fate of these people if they actually make it to Europe, through the docudrama
Mediterranea, that debuted on selected screens across US cinemas a month ago. The film follows two men who have already made the dangerous journey from Africa to Italy. But once
they arrive, they start to face hostility and violence in this shocking look at
the life-and-death struggle of refugees.
The film director is Jonas Carpignano, the son of an African- American mother and an Italian father.
When the first racial riots took place in 2010 across Rosarno, in Southern Italy, Jonas rushed to Calabria to get a better grasp of the situation. This Inspired him to make a short called A Chjàna (2012), based on the true story of immigrant Koudous Seihon, portraying much of what he went through when he migrated from Burkina Faso to Italy.