Gianfranco Rosi

Italy, France, Germany, 2020 / 100 min / Arabic & Kurdish OV with French & Dutch subt. / Documentary

Collaboration Festival du Film Italien de Villerupt

Shot over three years on the borders between Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon, “Notturno” gives voice to a human drama.

How much pain, how much life makes up the existence of people in the Middle East? Shot over three years on the borders between Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, and Lebanon, Notturno depicts the routines of people trying to survive in the war-torn region that had to face brutal dictatorships, foreign invasions and the murderous apocalypse brought upon it by ISIS. Eschewing the typical depictions of battles and violence, Gianfranco Rosi probes the collateral psychological trauma that the people endure by focusing on the fragility of their day-to-day lives. It can be heard in the mournful dirges of mothers at the location of previous atrocities, in the stammering of permanently wounded children, in a play about the senselessness of politics performed by patients in a psychiatric hospital. Different stories, to which the narration confers a unity that goes beyond the conflicts. But Rosi never forgets to display the humanity that reawakens every day from a seemingly endless nocturnal darkness.

“An assembly of carefully composed images and sounds, the film possesses an apparent serenity that seems under constant threat amid battered buildings and distant sounds of violent destruction. Rosi’s careful and patient study reveals the acute sense of humanity and resilience of people living in an unfathomable environment and reality.” Brad Deane, Toronto International Film Festival


Sat 13/03 19:00 Ciné Utopia Arabic & Kurdish OV with FR & NL subt. Public

“Rosi, who directed the migrant-focused Fire at Sea, excels at uncovering scenes of drama and emotion without leveraging them for sentimental impact. […] Lest the film sound like a kind of travelogue, it can also knock the wind out of you, as in a wrenching look at children and their drawings about violent traumas inflicted by ISIS. Eschewing interviews and captions, Rosi puts his faith in a steady tripod camera and an evident ability to build up trust. […] The past two decades of documentary film have produced many anatomies of history that attempt to summarize several millenniums, but Rosi’s borderless tableaus bring out another kind of truth in faces, places and pure feeling.” Nicolas Rapold, The New York Times, 21/01/2021

“Through meticulously assembled vignettes, Rosi has composed a compassionate picture of daily life along the front line, giving face and voice to those waking up to yet another day in this troubled corner of the world. […] Big questions are quietly raised, and small but poignant encounters grow on us, meandering through our minds and senses, reverberating long after the lights go out.” Jan Lumholdt, Cineuropa, 10/09/2020

“Whether “Notturno” challenges the mind and rewards the eye, on the other hand, is unambiguous. The film’s qualities are clear as day.” Ben Croll, IndieWire, 08/09/2020

“The war has an oppressive presence, but it is always just off-screen. The film has little dialogue and no interest in identifying specific places, so it’s a futile exercise trying to guess where individual scenes take place. Like all the director’s films, it’s a mood piece that still retains a strong element of social and political criticism.” Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, 09/08/2020

“This collage of vignettes from ordinary lives in the region, caught as — or more often arranged into — strikingly beautiful compositions, brings us back and forth across the borders between Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon, in the process smudging political differences in one of the most highly politicized regions on earth. This is, of course, Rosi’s project: to communicate the commonality of human experience even in acutely divided terrain. […]  silence is one of the film’s most artfully deployed attributes: When a group of female soldiers, all sleeping bunched together in one small room, wakes up and gets dressed for the day, they do so absolutely wordlessly, the clipping of buckles and the slapping of helmets the only sounds. It imbues the scene with significance precisely because it’s not naturalistic at all. […] The personal is political, but it can also be very private, and where Rosi’s imagery is often arresting in its vivid sharpness, that dividing line — between insightfulness and invasiveness — like every border in this ancient, troubled region, is blurred.” Jessica Kiang, Variety, 10/09/2020

  • Capri European Film Award, Capri, Hollywood – The International Film Festival, 2020 (USA)
  • Best Cinematography, Seville European Film Festival, 2020 (Spain)
  • Sorriso Diverso Venezia Award for the Best Italian Film, Venice Film Festival, 2020 (Italy)
  • Arca CinemaGiovani Award for the Best Italian Film, Venice Film Festival, 2020 (Italy)
  • UNICEF Award, Venice Film Festival, 2020 (Italy)
Cast & Credits
Gianfranco Rosi
Gianfranco Rosi
Gianfranco Rosi
21Uno Film, Stemal Entertainment
Les Films D’ici, No Nation Films, Mizzi Stock Entertainment

Gianfranco Rosi was born to Italien parents in Asmara, Eritrea, in 1964, and grew up in Eritrea, Rome, and Istanbul before moving to New York City where the studied film at NYU. In 1993, he directed his first documentary, Boatman. His films are regularly selected in the world’s biggest festivals. Sacro Gra (2013) was awarded the Golden Lion in Venice, whereas Fire at Sea (2016), his documentary focusing on the Italian island of Lampedusa in the middle of the so-called European migrant crisis, won the Golden Bear in Berlin and was nominated for the Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film. He served on several film festival juries, in Locarno in 2014 and in Cannes in 2016. His last documentary, Notturno premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2020.

  • 2020 – Notturno (documentary)
  • 2016 – Fuocoammare (documentary)
  • 2013 – Sacro Gra (documentary)
  • 2012 – Tanti futuri possibili. Con Renato Nicolini (documentary short)
  • 2010 – El Sicario - Room 164 (documentary)
  • 2008 – Below Sea Level (documentary)
  • 2001 – Afterwords (short)
  • 1993 – Boatman (documentary)