The Italian filmmaker who predicted migration deals with Libya

ROME, Alvise Armellini (dpa)- Andrea Segre worked for 5-6 years on a movie about Mediterranean refugee flows. As the Italian director started shooting, he realized that the dirty intelligence story he had imagined had possibly become a reality.
An Italian Interior Ministry agent is sent on a secret mission to Libya to strike deals with local warlords and coast guard officials so that migrants stop coming into Europe.

If the plot of Andrea Segre's fictional film "L'Ordine delle Cose" (The Order of Things) sounds familiar, it is because it is eerily reminiscent of real-life developments.
"I finished the script a long time ago, and as I was shooting, I gradually understood that what I had imagined was happening for real," the Italian director told dpa in an interview.
Segre's movie came out in Italy on Thursday, after an out-of-competition premiere at the Venice Film Festival. International distribution deals are not yet finalized.
Based on incognito interviews with real Italian spies, the film tells the story of a man who is told to get the Libyans to "stop all boats in a systematic way" because "people have had enough."
It is being released just as Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti - a former intelligence services chief - is facing a mix of praise and criticism for succeeding in stemming migration flows.
Last month, there were only 3,900 landings in Italy, less than a fifth compared to August 2016 levels. The reduction followed an EU-sanctioned Italian move to boost Libyan coast guard capabilities, but some say underhanded tactics have contributed.
According to several media outlets, Libyan militias formerly engaged in human trafficking are now stopping migrant departures thanks to some form of underhand arrangement with European authorities.
"We are paying, directly or indirectly [...] the people who were traffickers until yesterday," former foreign minister Emma Bonino said at a screening of Segre's film in the Italian senate.
Bonino, a member of the Radicals, an Italian libertarian party, who also served as EU commissioner for humanitarian aid, said the closing of the Libya-Italy migration route amounted to "returning people to hell."
Amid rising anti-migrant sentiment, Minniti has said that Italy's "social and democratic stability" would have been at risk had the government not acted to restrict the flow of asylum-seekers.
But people no longer allowed to seek a better life in Europe face "rape, torture and slavery" in Libya, the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Thursday in an open letter to the EU.
"This is what we show in the film," Segre explained.
In his film, which is sometimes so realistic that it feels like a documentary, life in militia-run camps in Libya is graphically portrayed, with brutal guards, indiscriminate beatings and abandoned dead bodies.
"We have on our consciences thousands of people who may not be dying at sea, but live in devastating slavery [...] and there is no real prospect of improving their plight," the director says, doubting that the UN ever step in to help, as suggested by Italy's Minniti.
After some sly manoeuvring, the film's protagonist, Corrado Rinaldi, succeeds in his mission. But his determination falters as he develops a personal relationship with a Somali woman he meets in a Libyan camp.
Segre said all the secret agents he met before shooting the film told him the only way they could do their job was to never think about the human aspect of their actions. For them, "the number one rule is: don't get to know these people, just treat them as numbers."

Saturday, September 9th 2017
Alvise Armellini

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