Film Shows Conditions for African Migrant Workers In Italian Labour Camps

Rome, Italy,  July 3, 2020// – A new film by Doha Debates and acclaimed Italian filmmakers Carola Mamberto and Diana Ferrero has drawn attention from Pope Francis, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Milan’s mayor for its footage of Italy’s African migrant labourers during the height of the Covid-19 crisis. 

The film features union leader Aboubakar Soumahoro,who met Italian PM Conte in June 2020 in an effort to win rights for the nation’s undocumented African workers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy’s migrants were classified as “essential workers” and continued to pick asparagus, artichokes, grapes and other crops at estimated hourly wages of 4 euros, or $3.50.  Italy is one of the top two tomato producers in the world, with the U.S. a major importer.

The Invisibles

In the newly released short film, “The Invisibles,” filmmakers Mamberto and Ferrero went inside Italian labour camps during the height of the pandemic in April 2020 to capture images of workers, who without citizenship papers were stuck in lockdown and could not follow crop harvests around Italy.

The never-seen-before footage shows African migrant workers without access to food, healthcare or sanitation during the Covid-19 pandemic, in the midst of one of Europe’s wealthiest nations.

Additional details of the film include: An exclusive look inside a worker’s camp, Borgo Mezzanone, in rural Puglia, featuring an interview with union leader Aboubakar Soumahoro.

Soumahoro, who came to Italy in 1999 from the Ivory Coast to work as a “bracciante,” a day labourer or “pair of arms” in the fields, describes conditions including workers with no access to potable water and no social distancing.

“Social distancing is a privilege here,” he said. “People are packed together.” He goes on to say, “There is no access to healthcare from the state.”

“People need to know the exhaustion, the sweat, the exploitation, that’s often behind every bite of food that comes from these fields. Without dignity and rights, that food is rotten”,  Aboubakar Soumahoro, added.

An interview with Giuseppe Sala, mayor of Milan, Italy’s second largest city, and a message from the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who gave a message on May 6, 2020, saying, “I take on the pleas of these workers and I encourage turning this crisis into an opportunity to put front and center the dignity of a human being and the dignity of work.”





About the Filmmakers

 Carola Mamberto

Carola is a journalist and documentary filmmaker originally from Finale Ligure, Italy. She has reported and produced films across the world–from Sicily to Tunisia to the Southern United States to Afghanistan. Most recently, she co-produced an episode of the award-winning PBS/FRONTLINE series, “Money, Power and Wall Street.” A graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the University of the Arts, London, Carola joined the Board of Directors of the Italian Cultural Society in 2018.

 Diana Ferrero

A native of Rome, Italy, Diana came to the United States on a Fulbright scholarship in 2003 and received a Master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism in 2005.

She has produced and reported for a variety of Italian and American outlets. Her first documentary, “They Call Me Muslim,” premiered at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York.

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