Documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi arrives for the 89th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on February 6, 2017. / AFP / Mark RALSTON
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Like much of Italian master Gianfranco Rosi's cinematic, Oscar-nominated documentary "Fire at Sea," this opening scene plays out like a narrative thriller, except the lives in danger are real.As Europe grapples with its biggest migrant influx since World War II, Rosi's harrowing film offers an unflinching look at life on the Italian island of Lampedusa.One of the most decorated documentary filmmakers in the business, Rosi, who is in his early 50s, won the top prize from a jury led by Meryl Streep at the Berlin Film Festival last year.Rosi spent a year living on Lampedusa, just another tiny island barely meriting its inclusion on the map, he thought when he started filming in 2014 -- before millions began heading into Europe across the Balkans.Rosi accompanied coastguard rescue missions answering the terrified SOS calls of people on boats, most of them arriving from Libya.Rosi lived through his own migrant crisis at age 13, evacuated by Italian soldiers from his east African homeland without his parents during the Eritrean War of Independence against Ethiopian troops.
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