First major award for AMIRA-shot film

First major award for AMIRA-shot film

The Italian director, cinematographer, producer and screenwriter Gianfranco Rosi has been awarded the 2016 Golden Bear -- the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale. Rosi was recognized for his documentary feature film FIRE AT SEA, which was captured with AMIRA and examines the current European migrant crisis by focusing on the inhabitants of the Italian island of Lampedusa, where hundreds of desperate, dead or dying migrants arrive by boat every week.

Teaser trailer for FIRE AT SEA, captured with AMIRA

Gianfranco Rosi won the Golden Bear at Berlinale 2016 for his documentary feature film FIRE AT SEA, which was captured with AMIRA and examines the European migrant crisis.

This prestigious accolade represents the first major awards victory for an AMIRA production. Since its release in 2014, the documentary-style AMIRA has proved its versatility by being used on an ever-widening variety of different production types, from TV shows, sports, music videos, branded content and commercials to independent films, nature films and documentaries.

 

Rosi spent many months on Lampedusa, getting to know the locals to a degree that allowed him to capture their everyday lives in a natural and unobtrusive way. Working entirely by himself as a one-man crew, Rosi had to take care of both sound and image recording, a feat made much easier by the AMIRA's ergonomic design and its extensive audio options. 

Speaking to ARRI following his Berlinale win, Rosi noted, "The quality of sound was wonderful. In general it is not easy to record audio in-camera, and having the chance to directly record the sound with the AMIRA was great. The viewfinder is wonderful too. I always look in the viewfinder and almost never use a side monitor. It really is like a scientist with his microscope, I begin to discover the world inside the viewfinder and everything stems from there. So I shot a lot with the camera on my shoulder; we were just one body."

I also had the privilege of using a camera which is quite light but is a fantastic camera -- the AMIRA from ARRI. It made a huge difference because with this camera I was able to shoot at night, with little or no light.

At a press conference following the film's Berlinale screening, Rosi specifically cited the AMIRA as being vital to his approach: "This time I also had the privilege of using a camera which is quite light but is a fantastic camera -- the AMIRA from ARRI. It made a huge difference because with this camera I was able to shoot at night, with little or no light; I was shooting with a small torch, and that gave me enormous freedom because being just one person filming...sometimes it looks like we had an incredible amount of light in order to be able to shoot at night or when we shot in the middle of the forest -- it was only one torch. So I think that the technology helped me a lot on this film because being able to work with a small camera -- a tiny camera -- by myself, was an incredible tool."

 

During his subsequent conversation with ARRI, Rosi reaffirmed, "The AMIRA was absolutely great...when I had to film during the night the images were amazing, with the blacks really black and the light standing out with unbelievable depth. As a matter of fact, the best scenes are those I filmed in the evening or during the night; they are so beautiful that everyone is surprised and asks me "what camera did you use?" This was fundamental, because I was alone, and having a camera that in no-lighting conditions allowed me to keep shooting even when my eye was not able to see things anymore, while the AMIRA could still see and record beautiful images, was amazing."

A lightweight configuration that combined the AMIRA with small prime lenses gave Rosi the freedom to accompany locals as they went about their day-to-day lives -- all of which are affected by the constant stream of migrants -- and to be on the front line of the crisis. After 40 days accompanying the Italian navy on its sorties to assist foundering migrant boats, Rosi was confronted with the heart-wrenching reality of the lives being lost when he found himself on-board a ship with numerous dead bodies in the hold. 

FIRE AT SEA press conference

At a Berlinale 2016 press conference Gianfranco Rosi, who won the Golden Bear for FIRE AT SEA, discusses how important the ARRI AMIRA was on this powerful documentary about the European migrant crisis.

As he told Variety..."death appeared in front of me and I could not avoid looking at it. It was a direct confrontation. That day, I had to decide: "Shall I look or not? Shall I turn the other way?" The captain said to me: "Gianfranco, you have to go in the stowage and capture the tragedy." I said: "I've always tried to avoid shooting scenes like that." He said: "It's like saying the gas chambers are too harsh. It's your duty. You have to show these images to the world." So I went below and there were these asphyxiated dead bodies hugging each other. And I became totally enraged. Narratively the challenge was to build up to that scene and have the audience internalize them without it being considered something somewhat voyeuristic."