The 2 youngsters on the display trudging by means of the limitless dunes of the Sahara on their technique to Europe have been actors. So have been the man migrants tortured in a bloodstained Libyan jail.

However to the younger man watching the film one latest night in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal’s capital, the cinematic ordeal felt all too actual. His two brothers had undertaken the identical journey years in the past.

“For this reason they refused to ship me cash to take that route,” stated Ahmadou Diallo, 18, a road cleaner. “As a result of they’d seen firsthand how harmful it’s.”

Critics within the West have praised the movie “Io Capitano” — nominated for the 2024 Academy Award for greatest worldwide function movie — noting its visceral but tender take a look at migration to Europe from Africa. It’s now displaying in African international locations, and is hitting near dwelling in Senegal. That’s the place the 2 predominant characters within the film embark on an odyssey that epitomizes the desires and hardships of numerous extra hoping to make it overseas.

Final month, the movie’s crew and its director, Matteo Garrone, took “Io Capitano” to a dozen locations in Senegal the place migration isn’t fiction. They screened it in youth facilities, in faculties, even on a basketball courtroom turned outside movie show in Guédiawaye, a suburb of Dakar, the place Mr. Diallo and lots of of others watched it at sundown on an enormous display.

“Io Capitano” tells the story of Seydou and Moussa, two endearing cousins who go away Dakar after months of planning, spending the entire financial savings they earned by means of straining work on a development website.

However what begins as an thrilling street journey rapidly turns into a deadly expedition because the youngsters discover themselves within the arms of careless smugglers, then below the management of armed robbers and merciless jailers, earlier than they attain the deadliest step of their travels, the crossing of the Mediterranean.

Seydou, the lead character, finally ends up captaining the ship taking them and lots of of different migrants to Italy. The film by no means reveals them reaching the shore, however when a helicopter from the Italian coast guard hovers over the boat, the viewer is tempted to imagine that they are going to be rescued and that a part of their troubles are over.

On the basketball courtroom, some gasped in horror when bandits opened fireplace on a bunch of migrants on the display. Others hid their eyes with their head scarves throughout scenes of torture.

“Folks know there’s a threat to lose their lives” in searching for emigrate to Europe, Mr. Garrone stated. “However they haven’t seen what it’s like.”

Senegal’s youth make up nearly all of its 17 million folks, however its fast-growing financial system has struggled to supply them jobs with respectable pay. Hundreds go away yearly through the Sahara and the Atlantic Ocean, and lethal accidents are frequent. More and more, those that can afford it fly to Central America, hoping to succeed in america that means.

Senegal’s new president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, has promised to enhance the financial system by financing small companies and strengthening traineeships in farming, fishing and industrial jobs. Pure gasoline and oil reserves are anticipated to show the tiny coastal nation right into a hydrocarbon energy in Africa.

However in Guédiawaye, the place newly constructed homes sit on sandy streets subsequent to crumbling shelters full of flies and no entry to working water, many younger males stated they weren’t anticipating main modifications.

Mr. Diallo, the road cleaner, stated he wished to hitch his brothers in Paris. He confirmed movies on his cellphone of himself and dozens of others within the Atlantic final summer time, throughout one in every of his two earlier — and unsuccessful — makes an attempt to succeed in Europe.

Just a few ft away, Barra Gassama, 18, watched “Io Capitano” with generally teary eyes. A decade in the past, he stated, he picked up the cellphone at dwelling to listen to from a stranger that his older brother had died on his technique to Spain. “That decision modified our lives,” he stated in a whisper. “This jogs my memory a lot of him,” he added, staring on the display.

Regardless of his brother’s loss of life, Mr. Gassama’s mom later inspired him to attempt to go away, too. However he stated he had as a substitute chosen to attempt to make it at dwelling, working onerous as a baker, incomes as much as $6 a day, six days per week.

Within the film, Seydou and Moussa go away Dakar with out telling their households. However a few of these watching the movie stated they have been having open conversations with their relations about migration.

Pape Alioune Ngom, 18, a welder, stated a number of hours earlier than the screening that he was attempting to steer his dad and mom to let him go to Europe. He swore that he wouldn’t go away with out their blessing. “What’s there for us right here?” he requested. “All of us have migration in thoughts.”

Studies have proven that folks aspiring emigrate typically ignore warnings concerning the risks of attempting to enter international locations illegally. However Mr. Garrone, the director, stated the film wasn’t supposed to steer folks to not undertake the journey.

“I’m largely hoping to assist younger folks in Senegal understand that after they’ve left their dwelling, they develop into a part of a system that they will’t actually get out of,” he stated.

To depict the system of smugglers and exploitation, Mr. Garrone labored with Mamadou Kouassi, a social employee now working with migrants in Italy, who spent three and a half years attempting to succeed in Europe from his native Ivory Coast. Mr. Kouassi’s experiences impressed most of Seydou’s and Moussa’s story line within the film.

Mr. Kouassi additionally attended the screening, the place he stared on the spectators who have been laughing on the two younger heroes attempting to cover money inside their our bodies earlier than starting their trek by means of the Sahara.

“They do not know how Europe and Italy are treating us on the opposite aspect,” Mr. Kouassi stated.

The primary tragedy within the film adopted shortly after, when a migrant fell off a pickup truck and the motive force saved racing within the desert, to the horror of the opposite passengers grabbing onto wood sticks to keep away from assembly the identical destiny.

The viewers fell silent.

Seydou Sarr, 19, and Moustapha Fall, 20, the 2 actors who play the cousins within the film, have been touring movie festivals within the West, sporting designer garments on the Oscars and chilling in luxurious inns throughout Europe, a world away from the lives in Senegal they themselves left a number of years in the past. Their journey was a little bit completely different; they have been forged within the movie in Dakar, and later moved to Italy, the place Mr. Garrone lives.

Mr. Sarr, who gained the perfect younger actor award on the Venice Movie Competition, stated he wished to proceed appearing.

For now, they each reside in Rome with Mr. Garrone’s mom, and Mr. Garrone stated he nervous about them. “They rise up at 3 p.m., and my mom does the cooking and the whole lot for them,” he stated. “They’re children.”

After the screening, Ndeye Khady Sy, the actress starring as Seydou’s mom, urged the viewers to remain in Senegal. “You’ll be able to succeed right here,” she stated.

However Mr. Ngom, the welder, had left the basketball grounds.

So had Mr. Diallo, the road cleaner, who stated he would attempt reaching Europe for the third time this summer time.

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