Celebrated Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone’s new work, Io capitano (I, Captain) is a truly absorbing, captivating tale of two Senegalese teens who save up their hard-earned money to emigrate to Europe for a better life (to hopefully be rappers). Garrone drew his inspiration from true stories and surrounded himself and the film with actual survivors.
Seydou (an astonishing Seydou Sarr) and his cousin Moussa (Moustapha Fall) naively set out for Italy via the Sahara Desert and through Libya—an arduous journey for even the most experienced travelers. They soon find themselves exploited, cheated out of all their money, tortured, jailed, and eventually set sail on a sea voyage right out of Homer’s The Odyssey!
The director tells this tale from a very different narrative POV than most western films about African migration since the movie concentrates on the perspective of the migrants. Io capitano is both epic and personal, with moments of harsh inhumanity and dreamy surrealism that blend perfectly as well as a quite unexpected, but richly satisfying, final third.
The film picked up two major awards at this year’s Venice Film Festival, the Silver Lion for Best Director and the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Actor (Sarr).
Garrone first shot to international prominence in 2008 with Gommorah a harsh but potent portrait of organized crime in Naples. The film won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. His follow up was a satiric look at reality television, titled Reality, which won the Grand Prix at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Other features include, The Embalmer (2002), First Love (2003), Tale of Tales (2015), Dogman (2018) and Pinocchio (2019).
Both Gommorah and Dogman were Italy’s International Feature Oscar submissions but did not make the short list.
Io capitano is currently seeking U.S. distribution.
Awards Daily had the pleasure of speaking with Garrone while he was in NYC on a press tour of the film.