Hard-hitting Italian drama brings mafia to Cannes

Sun May 18, 2008 10:00am EDT
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By James Mackenzie

CANNES, France (Reuters) - A hard-hitting film based on an Italian bestseller made its debut on Sunday, depicting the brutal world of the Camorra, the Naples crime network whose tentacles extend from drugs and waste disposal to haute couture.

"Gomorra," in competition at the Cannes film festival, is based on the bestselling account of Naples' version of the mafia by journalist Roberto Saviano, who has been living under police protection for the past two years.

"In Italy, and I think not just in Italy, there is a hunger for these stories," he told a news conference at which he was loudly applauded by Italian reporters. "We are tired of folkloric or fictionalized images of crime."

The film, directed by Matteo Garrone, is shot in a flat, unshowy style reminiscent of Italy's postwar neo-realist cinema and follows a web of characters from teenaged gunmen in the run-down suburbs of Naples to a sleek politician arranging to dump toxic waste illegally.

Due to open in Italy this week, the film comes just weeks after television images of rubbish piled in the streets provided a stark illustration of the extent of the Camorra's grip on the Naples economy.

But the project has also caused controversy in Italy, where Saviano has been accused of washing dirty linen in public and defaming Italy's good name abroad.

He said he had grown used to the accusations but said it was important not to hide the truth of a story which had a resonance well beyond one country.

"I think that this very silence, which is often in our country's tradition, is a way of vilifying our country, which is why telling the story is necessary," he said.   Continued...

<p>Italian director Matteo Garrone (2nd L) poses with cast members Toni Servillo (L) and (R-L) Salvatore Cantalupo, Gianfelice Imparato and Maria Nazionale during a photocall for the film "Gomorra" at the 61st Cannes Film Festival, May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler</p>