Benigni Hails "Io Capitano" as Epic Ode to the Modern Migrant

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Benigni Hails “Io Capitano” as Epic Ode to the Modern Migrant, Praises Garrone and Sarr

| Updated: December 23, 2023 15:53

Benigni Hails "Io Capitano" as Epic Ode to the Modern Migrant

Roberto Benigni, rarely seen outside his own projects, has emerged to champion Matteo Garrone’s “Io Capitano,” Italy’s powerful Oscar contender for Best International Feature Film. The esteemed actor-director, whose “Life is Beautiful” swept the 1999 Oscars, praises “Io Capitano” for its epic scope and its poignant portrayal of the migrant experience.

The film follows Seydou and Moussa, two young men venturing from Dakar to Europe. Garrone’s unflinching lens captures their perilous journey through deserts, Libyan detention centers, and treacherous seas. Benigni sees not just realism, but an echo of classic cinema: “It’s epic, because migrants represent the modern-day odyssey…it harkens back to the grand tradition of Italian cinema, Rossellini, De Sica, but also to John Ford.”

Benigni particularly admires Seydou Sarr, the film’s breakout star. He compares Sarr’s eyes to Pinocchio, conveying “mystery, suffering, hope, adventure, and tragedy.” The film’s climax, where Sarr cries out “Io capitano” (“I am the captain”), elicits an emotional response from Benigni: “I fainted from the beauty; the grandeur…It’s a tragedy, it’s a dream.”

Garrone credits Benigni’s insights, noting their shared vision of the film being narrated by Seydou and Moussa. He also draws parallels to “Pinocchio” and “Huckleberry Finn,” emphasizing the coming-of-age tale at the heart of the film. Seydou, transformed by the experience, reflects on the impact of the film: “It made me grow, I learned things I didn’t know. It also changed many things in my life.”

Benigni’s vocal support adds weight to “Io Capitano”‘s already impressive accolades, including awards in Venice for Best Director and Best Emerging Actor (Sarr). With Benigni’s passionate endorsement and the film’s critical acclaim, “Io Capitano” emerges as a strong contender for Oscar glory, carrying a powerful message about resilience and hope in the face of adversity.

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