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The opening scenes of Italian director Emanuele Crialese’s picturesque morality tale, “Terraferma,” recall some of the surreal images of Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s extraordinary documentary about a fishing trawler, “Leviathan” (2012). Shot from underwater, the hull of a vessel passes overhead, as the pulsing ripples of its nets spiral out like an abstract painting. On deck the fishermen, framed by the intense blue of sea and sky, spot something bobbing in the water: It’s the prow of a sunken ship.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the wreckage probably came from a boat carrying illegals from Africa to the fishermen’s island home of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily.