Vanessa Redgrave screens her 'elegy' to migrants at Cannes

'Sea Sorrow' director compares Syrian boy to Prospero

18 May, 12:07

    CANNES - English actress Vanessa Redgrave has, at age 80, undertaken her first directing project with a documentary titled "Sea Sorrow", which was chosen as a Special Screening at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday and will be distributed across continental Europe.

    "When I saw on TV the images of the little Syrian boy Alan Kurdi, who drowned together with his mother and sister and washed up on a Turkish beach, I just told myself, I have to do it - and I did it," Redgrave said.

    "I took the title from a verse in The Tempest, and I involved witnesses and protagonists in this planetary horror, friends and colleagues such as Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes, and I tried to bear witness as well. Because we Europeans forget all too easily our history and our obligations. It's not only a political act, it's a gesture of humanity that should come naturally, but instead it doesn't," she said.

    In making the documentary Redgrave traveled to all the Mediterranean coasts as well as to the Middle East with a small dedicated film crew and as producer her son Carlo Nero, whom she had with her Italian husband Franco Nero.

    "I can't forget how much my parents did during the war to help other fleeing migrants like the Jews persecuted by the Nazis. And I can't close my eyes to the insensitivity and powerlessness of single individuals, governments, and international organisations who are passively present at a horrendous genocide that is turning the sea into a large mass grave," she said.

    "I well know that we are talking about a situation with many faces, but I look at my work as an elegy in which immortal poetry teaches us that there's no difference between the old Prospero and the small Kurdish boy who drowned for not having had the chance for a legal escape from his warring country. Both flee on an old and dangerous boat and both were denied justice and solidarity".

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