Expanding his internationally acclaimed short A CHJÀNA into a debut feature of uncommon visceral power, director Jonas Carpignano introduces us to Ayiva, a husband and father from Burkina Faso, who crosses the sea from North Africa to Europe, hoping for more opportunity. Shot with raw immediacy, the film guides us through Ayiva's experiences with fearsome armed militants, unscrupulous guides and a capsized sea vessel (portrayed in a sequence of heart–stopping power) into his final destination: a small Italian village. Though Ayiva is a kind and hopeful man, it soon becomes apparent that what he can hope for from his adopted home is well–intentioned exploitation at best, ugly prejudice and violence at worst. As today's headlines continue to tell of displaced refugees and scorned immigrants, the magnitude of these tragedies can numb us to the reality that each of the human beings involved has his own unique story. With this in mind, Carpignano's film becomes an urgent and vital experience. — Mike Dougherty
Jonas Carpignano was born in New York in 1984. His award-winning short films, including A CHJÀNA and A CIAMBRA (AFI FEST 2014), led to his feature debut as writer and director, MEDITERRANEA, which screened in the 2015 Critics’ Week in Cannes. He has a long-standing interest in the lives of racial minorities in Europe, perhaps motivated by his own mixed background.