Our first inspiration for It Will Be Chaos was the major migration crisis hitting Italy at the height of the Arab Spring back in 2011. Suddenly, our native country was all over the news, with images of rickety boats loaded with human cargo of hundreds of people crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to seek refuge on the Italian shores. As a New York-based, husband-and-wife team of documentary filmmakers with a focus on socially engaged stories, we were interested in the big picture of the crisis. If people die of dehydration in the Sonoran desert in the American southwest, in the Mediterranean they drown. The geography is different, but the scope of the tragedy is the same. In the hot summer of 2011, with a small development grant by Chicken & Egg Pictures, we flew to Lampedusa, Italy, to do research, meet the locals, get to know the work of the Coast Guard, the fishermen, the humanitarian workers, the human rights lawyers as well as to meet the asylum seekers inside the refugee center. What we thought, at the beginning, to be the microcosm of the tiny island of Lampedusa was actually a complex macrocosm of stories and different characters. We soon realized that it was crucial to widen the angle and tell the tale of two crises with the refugees’ on one side and the locals’ on the other – the story we wanted to tell was bigger than Lampedusa and had to be told from the ground level.
Fast-forward to 2013: The crisis is even bigger, the boats are filled with more and more refugees, and the death toll continues to soar. We meet Eritrean survivor Aregai, who is saved by a fisherman, Domenico, and their story allows us to shape the mosaic we have in mind. In 2015, already in post-production, the crisis is now of epic proportions. It has shifted along the Balkan route, bolstering nationalist parties in Italy and inspiring protests in many countries.
In September 2015, Emanuela Calabrini, UN Officer for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in NY, introduces us to human rights advocate Sara Bergamaschi who offers to connect us with Syrian asylum seeker Wael Orfahli who, with his wife and four young children, is stranded in Turkey waiting to embark on the dangerous sea crossing to Europe. Few months earlier, Sara had helped Wael’s youngest brother Thair to safely reach Germany. Not knowing how the Syrian chapter would ever play out in the film, and with only few days to decide what to do, we embarked on yet another trip. Embedded with thousands of refugees heading to Northern Europe by rail, bus and on foot, we traveled through 10 different countries to follow Wael’s family from Turkey to Germany, with Sara as associate producer.
The film we made is true to what our eyes have seen over the years working on location. It reflects our own passion and struggle to make this documentary, as well as the passion and struggles of the many people we met and we worked with. What came out of it is a multi-character story that zig-zags in space and time, plunging the audience into the middle of things, where the bigger crisis unfolds in real time. We have constantly followed our instincts taking unexpected turns that at times have complicated what initially promised to be straightforward storytelling. But it paid back, as the multitude in IT WILL BE CHAOS becomes an eloquent, cohesive mosaic of a crisis that is global in scale, where both the refugees and the local communities struggle to stay afloat.