Jonas Carpignano‘s movie is one of the best evidence about immigration in Italy, especially in the south of the country, where we can meet thousands of Ayiva and Abas.
Mediterranea starts with our two main characters, Ayiva and Abas precisely, who find themselves in Algeria, having left Burkina Faso and trying to get to the Libyan shore by foot so that they can catch a boat to Italy.
From here we follow their path through all the many difficulties they have to afford day by day; and minute after minute we discover their different ways to approach the new life.
Ayiva is a very good person concerned about earning money especially for his daughter who is in Africa. Obviously this doesn’t mean he’s above a little theft on the train when the opportunity for a warm sweater present itself. But as soon as he can he finds a job, he works hard and he catches his boss’ eyes. Soon Ayiva gets welcomed into his house and gets additional tasks so he starts making good money.
In the real life, Koudous Seihon, who potrays Ayiva, is Carpignano‘s roommate and Mediterranea is pretty much his real story. Koudous is still an irregular so, for him, it was very difficult to get permission to get into UK for the London Film Festival; but he made it (and you can watch this wonderfully shy and strong young man on stage here).
Abas (Alassane Sy) is completely different from his friend. He is more excited by those photos of European girls that his friend post on Facebook than by an hard-working life. Once in Italy, Abas doesn’t adjust as well as Ayiva. He is a troublemaker who refuse to be a slave, looking for the “Rihanna’s love in an hopeless space”; and he is one of the immigrant who instead to follow what is smart in that moment, follows what he thinks is right; so he finds himself in first line in the night of terror against the police and some rabble-rousing locals; episode that really happened in 2010 in Rosarno, a small town in Calabria where the movie is set and really close to Carpignano‘s home town.
Maybe Mediterranea can’t make political changes, but for sure Carpignano‘s work can try to explain how different things are in Calabria, as well as in Ventimiglia (the northern border between Italy and France newspapers talked about a lot last summer). Because what it’s on the news makes a really wrong idea about how things really are and unfortunately, not everyone, has the opportunity,as Jonas for the south and I for the north had had, to see with their own eyes what happened and is still happening there.
“Right now it’s tough, but it will get better”