LFF Review: Notturno

Gianfranco Rosi is a filmmaker whose focus has squarely been on the underdog. Whether that’s migrants searching for a new home or squatters living on the fringes. The Italian documentarian has the unique accolade of winning the two highest awards at Venice and Berlin. However, it was undoubtedly his 2016 film Fire at Sea, which earned him an Oscar nomination, that brought him the most acclaim. In his new film, Notturno, he turns his attention to war zones in the Middle-East.

Filmed over a period of three years, Rosi concentrates his efforts on the fringes of conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Kurdistan and Iraq. He observes the impact and effect this has had on those communities, whether from coalition ‘invasion’ or the scourge of Daesh. Instead of capturing the fighting, his camera quietly observes those caught in the crossfire. The toll it takes living in an almost continual state of anxiety and fear.

Notturno mixes beautiful shots of everyday life with more involved conversations about the trauma inflicted on those left behind. Taken in totality, it builds up a picture of communities which have been decimated by this constant turbulence. Documenting the scars suffered by those civilians who are often forgotten. Notturno highlights the psychological strain people living in this region are under. It does so with great empathy, elegance and compassion.

Notturno screened at London Film Festival.

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