A frame from the film 'Nour' by Maurizio Zaccaro, a biopic of Pietro Bartolo | Photo: ANSA/US
A frame from the film 'Nour' by Maurizio Zaccaro, a biopic of Pietro Bartolo | Photo: ANSA/US

The story of Pietro Bartolo has been made into a film. Bartolo worked as a doctor tending to migrants on the island of Lampedusa, and is now a member of the European Parliament. The movie is also intended to serve as an appeal to Europe and its sense of responsibility.

"Nour" by Maurizio Zaccaro is a biopic of Pietro Bartolo, the famous doctor who treated migrants on the island of Lampedusa. It follows the story of a ten-year-old girl named Nour from Syria and who faced the journey across the Mediterranean to Europe by herself. 

Nour is one of many survivors, but stands out for carrying an enormous pain in her heart over the fact that she no longer knows where her mother is, after her mother failed to board the boat in Libya. 

Orphans of the sea

Played by actor Sergio Castellitto, Bartolo takes particular care of the young girl, bringing her to his home and caring for her as if she were his own daughter. Castellitto said it's always a new "challenge to play a role, whether they exist in real life or not." 

"Playing Poseidon or a real person makes no difference to me. And Bartolo's life is formidable. I tried to bring it to life like an evangelical metaphor, or the story of a man who puts a crazy idea at the center of his life - that of emptying the sea with a teaspoon. And yet, he tries. In any case, it isn't a film that explains a situation that politics doesn't make clear. In the end, we're all orphans of the sea," Castellitto said.

Indifference on Lampedusa

The press conference for the film launch centered on political commentary, with many cast members expressing alarm over the current situation. At the same time they took it as an opportunity to appeal to Europe and its sense of responsibility. 

Regarding the current dimensions of the migrant situation, actor Castellitto said there there needs to be "acceptance of the idea of international responsibility" and said that today "the great absentee is Europe". Director Maurizio Zaccaro added that not only Europe was absent, "but the whole world."

Pietro Bartolo himself, who now is a member of the European Parliament on the list of the Democratic Party (PD), doesn't hide his concern in the current climate either: "I have to say that the island is still welcoming, but a certain indifference is starting to make itself felt, also due to the brutal and misleading narrative by those who have used this battle for political speculation," Bartolo said.

"Today, it must be said, Europe is turning away, before those migrant children; it should apologize. I hope that in the German-led six months everything will be resolved. In that case, I'll go back to being a doctor," he said.

The film, which is based on a book by Bartolo titled "Tears of Salt: A Doctor's Story," was produced by Stemal Entertainment and Ipotesi Cinema in collaboration with Rai Cinema and producers Donatella Palermo and Elisabetta Ormi. It has has already screened at the Torino Film Festival and will be in theaters in August.

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