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Matinee: 'I'll Save You' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

25 May 2019

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 203rd in our series of Saturday matinees today: I'll Save You or, more properly, Io ti salverò.

This slide show of black-and-white stills taken by Fabrizio Villa was shot in August 2016. He sailed on board an Italian Navy ship that, in 12 missions, recovered over 7,000 people escaping Libya on rubber rafts.

The photos show the despair of the recently rescued and the smiles that, after rescue, returned to their faces. Translated from the Italian, he tells the story himself:

Tested by the rough sea and soaking wet, wearing only a shirt, a pair of pants or a dress. And the smell of petrol. In the Sicilian Channel the migrants all look the same: drifting on inflatable boats made in China or on dilapidated boats from which they almost all see the sea for the first time. Their eyes, full of fear and hope, tell different stories. Women, children, young people, entire families: some flee from war, others from poverty.

Everyone is looking for the same thing: a better life. To find it they are willing to lose what they have, in desperate journeys where death is not a remote possibility.

I went to look for those stories, once again, in the heart of the Mediterranean, on the route of hope that leads from Libya to Italy.

I boarded the Commander Cigala Fulgosi, the Navy ship that has since the beginning of Mare Sicuro recovered over seven thousand people. The same one as in Gianfranco Rosi's film Fuocoammare, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2016 for best film.

For eleven days I lived with them, sailors and volunteers of the Rava Foundation, engaged in twelve separate rescues that saved 1,579 lives. I saw the courage, effort and self-denial of those who have chosen to live on the sea and feel rewarded by the smiles of the children who roam the bridge unaware of anything. I saw the despair and pain turn into relief and hope in the faces of those who have traveled without knowing what they would find. I saw their encounter.

This is what the images tell us: stories of rescued people and rescuers in the heart of the "Our Sea."

Our Sea or Mare Nostro is derived from Mare Nostrum, the Roman for the Mediterranean Sea. The concept has reflected various dimensions of the inescapable bond between the Italian peninsula and the sea. And, in this context, not the borders of any particular empire but its responsibilities to those seeking asylum.

The modern world has never seen the level of displacement we are currently experiencing. It is hard to imagine that our children will not judge us by how open our arms were and what barriers we built to those in need. They will look into the eyes depicted in these images and see souls.

Mare Nostro, after all.

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