Below Sea Level

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    Below Sea Level

    Directed by

    Italy, USA


    110 min

    • English


    This is the story of people who have gone past us. There is a place to go: 190 miles S.E. of LA and 129 feet below sea level where they have no running water, no electricity. This is the story of Ken and Lily, of Carol and Wayne, of Mike, Cindy, and Sterling. The film covers four years of their lives. They live below sea level, the place where all the debris, physical and mental, of our times comes to rest and is preserved in the dry desert air. No one can drop lower than this ground and only on this ground, it seems, can people finally see the future. The place looks like the apocalypse and feels like home.


    • Doc/It Award, Venice Horizons Documentary Award - Venice Film Festival



    Gianfranco Rosi
    Jacopo Quadri
    Gianfranco Rosi

    Gianfranco Rosi


    ...I wanted the audience to go through the same feeling as me. If people could feel what we were feeling in the room, the film could work.

    Born in Eritrea in 1964 during the country’s war of independence, he was evacuated to Italy without his family in 1977. He then lived in Rome and Istanbul before taking up studies at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York in 1984. His graduation film, BOATMAN (1993), screened at festivals like Sundance, Locarno, Toronto and Amsterdam, followed by AFTERWARDS (2001) which premiered at Venice Film Festival. BELOW SEA LEVEL, which he directed, photographed and produced, premiered in Venice in 2008 and won the Orizzonti Doc Award, the Grand Prix and Prix Des Jeunes at Cinema Du Reel Paris and was nominated for the European Film Academy Awards 2009. His documentary about Rome, SACRO GRA, won the Golden Lion at Venice in 2013. His most recent work, FIRE AT SEA (2016), was the Golden Bear winner at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.

    Selected Filmography