Matteo Garrone’s Oscar-Nominated ‘Io Capitano’ Gets Pan-African Theatrical Release Ahead of Tour With Director (EXCLUSIVE)

Matteo Garrone’s Oscar-nominated immigration epic “Io Capitano” is gaining traction in movie theaters across the African continent, and will soon be touring villages in Senegal with the director in tow as part of an itinerant cinema initiative called Cinemovel.

Shot over 13 weeks in Senegal, Italy and Morocco with a cast of non-professional actors, the Italian auteur’s latest feature — the title for which translates to “Me Captain” — narrates the Homeric journey of two young African men, Seydou and Moussa, who decide to leave the Senegalese capital of Dakar to go to Europe. It depicts their plight through the pitfalls of the desert, the horrors of detention centers in Libya and the dangers of the sea.

More from Variety

Distributor Pathé BC started the film’s African rollout in Moroccan cinemas in January, followed by screenings in Tunisia, Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Guinea, Mali and Togo. Pathé BC has now released “Io Capitano” in more than 400 movie theaters in 15 African territories reaching roughly 5,500 admissions, according to the distributor. Upcoming “Io Capitano” theatrical releases are planned in four additional African territories. The potent drama has also been screening in Dakar schools, underlining its potential educational impact.

Starting in April, a Cinemovel van with equipment for temporary “Io Capitano” screenings will be traveling the roads of Senegal for free screenings in the suburbs and villages near Dakar and in the cities of Thiès, Mboro, Kolda, Sédhiou and Ziguinchor. The public screenings will involve Senegalese schools and communities and provide “a powerful tool to discuss the topic of migration with young generations,” according to a Cinemovel statement. Garrone and the actors who play the film’s protagonists, Seydou Sarr and Moustapha Fall, will be attending the Cinemovel screenings.

Garrone’s drama launched in September from the Venice Film Festival, where it won the best director prize and and the best emerging actor award for Seydou Sarr. It then went on to win the best European film award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

“Io Capitano” then premiered in Africa as a gala event at the Marrakech International Film Festival in November and played at the Annaba Mediterranean Film Festival in Algeria. It was also selected for Morocco’s Tetouan Mediterranean Film Festival.

“Io Capitano,” which is among the nominees for this year’s Oscar for best international film, will be released in the U.S. on Feb. 23 by Cohen Media Group.

The film is an Italy-Belgium co-production, produced by Garrone’s own Archimede shingle, RAI Cinema and Belgium’s Tarantula, along with Pathé and Logical Content Ventures.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.