'Io Capitano' Captures True Stories of Migration in Collaboration with Those Who Lived It

It can be difficult to humanize the very real—and very tragic—issue of global migration. However, Italian director Matteo Garrone sought to do just that with his latest film, 'Io Capitano,' which depicts the harrowing journey of two young Africans seeking a better life in Europe.

For Garrone, the most important element of the story was to shed light on a part of the migrant journey that is often left out of the media narrative. "Because we are used to only seeing the last part of the journey, the moment that the boat arrives in Sicily, when they succeed," he warned. "But we know that 30,000 people have died in the last 10 years making this journey."

Garrone partnered with migrants whose stories inspired the script, and he relied on his two first-time actors, Seydou Sarr and Moustapha Fall, to help guide the production. For Sarr and Fall, the resemblance to their own lives was striking. Fall admitted, "When I read the script, I was like, 'Ah, yeah, that's me right now.'"

The fear of failing to accurately represent such a crucial story weighed heavily on Garrone. "I was worried first of all to be good enough," he said. "I didn't want to be an Italian that used from my privileged position the migrants for show."

It took eight years before Garrone felt confident that he could approach the story in an "honest and true" way. Once he made the leap, he committed to sharing the narrative duties with those who had lived through the journey. "I wanted to finally show the world a part of the migrant's journey that we don't see," Garrone said. "I put some elements of the real story of their lives and their passion for music to help them feel their character very close."

The result is a compelling and devastating look at an all-too-common reality. "Io Capitano" is a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a call to action in the face of inhumanity.

As Garrone stated, "I wanted to finally show the world a part of the migrant's journey that we don't see." 'Io Capitano' opens Feb. 23.

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