The Italian director, cinematographer, producer and screenwriter Gianfranco Rosi was awarded the 2016 Golden Bear -- the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale. Rosi was recognised for his documentary feature film FIRE AT SEA, which was captured with AMIRA and examines the current European migrant crisis by focusing on the inhabitants of the Italian island of Lampedusa, where hundreds of desperate, dead or dying migrants arrive by boat every week.
Rosi spent many months on Lampedusa, getting to know the locals to a degree that allowed him to capture their everyday lives in a natural and unobtrusive way. Working entirely by himself as a one-man crew, Rosi had to take care of both sound and image recording, a feat made much easier by the AMIRA's ergonomic design and its extensive audio options.
"The AMIRA was absolutely great...when I had to film during the night the images were amazing, with the blacks really black and the light standing out with unbelievable depth. As a matter of fact, the best scenes are those I filmed in the evening or during the night; they are so beautiful that everyone is surprised and asks me "what camera did you use?" This was fundamental, because I was alone, and having a camera that in no-lighting conditions allowed me to keep shooting even when my eye was not able to see things anymore, while the AMIRA could still see and record beautiful images, was amazing."
A lightweight configuration that combined the AMIRA with small prime lenses gave Rosi the freedom to accompany locals as they went about their day-to-day lives -- all of which are affected by the constant stream of migrants -- and to be on the front line of the crisis. After 40 days accompanying the Italian navy on its sorties to assist foundering migrant boats, Rosi was confronted with the heart-wrenching reality of the lives being lost when he found himself on-board a ship with numerous dead bodies in the hold.
As he told Variety..."death appeared in front of me and I could not avoid looking at it. It was a direct confrontation. That day, I had to decide: "Shall I look or not? Shall I turn the other way?" The captain said to me: "Gianfranco, you have to go in the stowage and capture the tragedy." I said: "I've always tried to avoid shooting scenes like that." He said: "It's like saying the gas chambers are too harsh. It's your duty. You have to show these images to the world." So I went below and there were these asphyxiated dead bodies hugging each other. And I became totally enraged. Narratively the challenge was to build up to that scene and have the audience internalize them without it being considered something somewhat voyeuristic."