After picking up the Berlinale's Golden Bear this year, Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi's documentary about the refugee crisis, has been touring the globe in anticipation of the Academy Awards next year.
The film will receive the European Movie of the Year award at the 21st Capri, Hollywood International Film Festival, which is held at the end of the year and over New Year's, a crucial period for Oscar campaigning. The doc will be honored on Dec. 27 at the fest's opening-night gala.
Fire at Sea is being submitted for Oscar consideration as both Italy's selection for the best foreign-language film honor, as well as for the best documentary award.
''Rosi's docu-film was selected unanimously as it portrays a contemporary and heart-felt real-life drama which carries a strong social message," said festival director Lina Wertmuller, the first woman ever to be nominated for a best director Oscar.
Having previously won the Golden Lion in Venice for Sacro GRA, Rosi is the only documentary filmmaker to have won top prizes at two leading European festivals.
In Fire at Sea, he tells the story of the refugee crisis at Lampedusa, the island that is the first point of entry to Europe for boats coming from Libya. Over the past 20 years, 400,000 migrants have arrived on Lampedusa, with an estimated 15,000 having died trying to cross the Strait of Sicily.
Rosi made the film to draw attention to the current crisis. Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi even gave a copy of the film to each of Europe's heads of state at a migration summit in Brussels this year. Fire at Sea opens in the U.S. later this month.
Capri also has announced a new program, "Cinema for Mercy," to cap off Pope Francis' Year of Mercy. The project is an international contest to honor short films created by young directors, which revolve around themes of morality.
"Such words as mercy, hospitality, dialogue, solidarity are going to be the common thread which will permeate the whole festival," said Wertmuller. "Pope Francis' Year of Mercy will soon be over and the contest aims at encouraging young authors to explore this issue."