Lifeboat – a half-hour documentary about the harrowing journey of North African refugees who risk high seas to find a better life in Europe and the people who risk their own lives to help them – will receive a special screening at the Galvin Fine Arts Center at St. Ambrose University at 7 p.m., Friday, March 1.
Following the screening, Director Skye Fitzgerald, MFA, and Score Composer William Campbell, PhD, will discuss the Academy Award-nominated film and answer questions from the audience.
Admission is free. Donations will be accepted to Sea-Watch, a Germany-based non-profit organization that conducts civil search and rescue operation, including the rescue depicted in the film.
Lifeboat is nominated in the Best Documentary Short Subject category at the 2019 Academy Awards, which will be televised live from Los Angeles beginning at 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 24.
The film already has won Best Documentary Short awards at multiple film festivals, including the 2018 Dublin International Short Film Festival, the 2018 Courage Film Festival, and the 2018 Woodstock Film Festival.
Campbell is a professor and chair of the St. Ambrose Music Department. He first met Fitzgerald while both men were attending graduate school at the University of Oregon.
Each will be in attendance at Sunday's Academy Awards presentation, but Campbell stressed the film's importance extends beyond awards and honors.
"The reason we want to show the film at St. Ambrose is not because it is an Oscar-nominated film," he said. "It is because we want to show the plight of humans who are in trouble and humans who risk their lives to help them. We think that deserves some attention. That's why the film was created."
Campbell is a music educator, composer, and pianist whose work has been heard across the country. His music has been awarded by regional and national agencies including the Penfield Commission, Waging Peace, and ASCAP.
In addition to his work as a film documentarian, Fitzgerald has served as a director of photography for numerous television programs, including "Dateline NBC" and "VICE." His work also has been seen on NBC, ABC, CNN, CNBC and the Discovery, Travel and History Networks. He recently shot an entire season of the Animal Planet program "Amanda to the Rescue."
Lifeboat is the seventh collaboration between Fitzgerald and Campbell, and is the second film in a trilogy of refugee films. The 2016 film "50 Feet From Syria" was voted onto the Academy Award's shortlist for Best Documentary Short.
"I met Skye 22 years ago and we have been doing projects together ever since," Campbell said. "He does a lot of different things and I am grateful he calls me every few years to do a project together. I really think ‘Lifeboat' is the best thing we have done together."