Eye For Film >> Movies >> Lifeboat (2018) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Skye Fitzgerald becomes the latest documentarian to turn his attention to the refugee crisis between North Africa and Europe, which has seen thousands of desperate people take to boats in a bid to make the treacherous journey in search of safety and a better life. This short film is the second in an intended Refugee Trilogy after 50 Feet From Syria, which followed an orthopaedic surgeon volunteer on the border with Syria, helping to heal the wounded.
Continuing the theme of those reaching out to help, Fitzgerald joins Captain Jon Castle - whom the film is dedicated to after his death to cancer in January 2018 - at sea. The Sea-Watch 2 vessel, which Castle helms, is run by a German not-for-profit organisation, who aim to prevent refugees from being drowned as they flee.
Those paying attention to the regular news reports from the region - or the documentaries shot there, including Eldorado and The Movement - will find much of what is contained her depressingly familiar. Boats crammed almost to sinking point with people, many of whom are sick from their time at sea and volunteers trying to help them with scant resources. Fitzgerald, along with Castle, who is also his chief interviewee, aim to break this sea of humanity down into individual lives. Many of the refugees here tell tales of human trafficking, of being bought and sold and incarcerated before taking the chance to flee.
Fitzgerald may not be breaking new ground here and some of the footage is, inevitably, more sketchy than other parts because of being shot on the hoof - but his film contains a tightly worked argument. With its short running time, it would be difficult to go into all the ins and outs of the crisis,. Instead zones in on the emotional element of what this looks like on the ground, aiming to shift the focus of the way that those in the West perceive the problem. Castle insists that "rationality" is all well and good but that the closer you get to the reality on the ground, the more you begin to see the problems not as a single crisis but as thousands of individual people in crisis coming together. "The heart is where your real thinking comes," he says. By the end of this film, you're likely to be thinking with your heart.Reviewed on: 08 Jan 2019