Samuele is twelve years old. He lives on an island in the Mediterranean, far away from mainland Italy. Like all boys of his age, he would rather climb the rocks by the shore, play with his slingshot or mooch about the port than going to school. But his home is not like other islands. For years, it has been the destination of men, women and children trying to make the crossing from Africa in boats that are far too small and decrepit. The island is Lampedusa, 150 miles south of Sicily, which has become a metaphor for the flight of refugees to Europe, the hopes, hardship and fate of hundreds of thousands of emigrants.
Filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi has accumulated an incredible array of footage, portraying the history, culture and daily lives of the islanders. Focusing on 12-year-old Samuele, as he explores the land and attempts to gain mastery of the sea, the film slowly builds a breathtakingly naturalistic portrait of the Lampedusan people and the events that surround them.