Io Capitano

DRAMA; 2hr 2min (Wolof and French with subtitles)

STARRING: Seydou Sarr, Moustapha Fall

At sea: Sarr (middle)

If leaving Dakar for Italy isn’t easy for 16-year-old Senegalese cousins Seydou and Moussa (Sarr and Fall) — and it isn’t, what with Seydou’s mama (Khady Sy) in a flap at the thought and permission required from a cemetery of dead ancestors — these hurdles are a summer breeze in comparison to the journey they take to their dream of a better life.


With the dogged optimism of idealists, the besties pack their squirrelled cash and board a bus for a costly and shambolic ride to Niger, gateway to the Sahara Desert. From there, they and their fellow travellers are baked into submission on an eternity of sand, across which they must trudge from nowhere to nothing. Their reality-based trek is a living death by degrees, documented by Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone as a paradoxically ravishing hellscape. Interlopers are irrelevant to the silky badlands through which they slog: after Moussa is imprisoned by guerrillas, Seydou labours on alone to his own incarceration, his cheeky certainty now flayed to sinew and bone.


The journey that refugees must undertake is a looking-glass dive into the hazards of chance. But the boys are so alive and the beauty of their conviction so overwhelming that you white-knuckle it with them, praying for a deliverance that has never looked less likely than when, reunited against all probability, they board a decrepit boat in Tripoli for a Mediterranean crossing to Sicily. With no experience but no other option, Seydou is forced to pilot the sorry hulk, packed to its gunwales with helpless cargo in a cautionary story that has already been told far too many times. Although not quite like this.