Excellent historical chronicle of the Camorra at Venice

By Moira Sullivan

Camorran boss Raffaele Cutolo

"Camorra" by Francesco Patierno, a documentary in the Venice "Orizzonti" section is an outstanding film unique in its way of illustrating the development if organized crime in the region of Compania and capital city Naples. Using historic newsreel footage and photojournalism, the film’s editor Maria Fantastica Valmori shows how life was from the 1970's to 1990's in this area. The document is a continuous essay, that is relentless in its investigation- a chronicle of violence and poverty of a secret criminal society, the Camorra who are behind multiple homicides through the years.

Director Francesco Patierno visited the archives of Rai Teche and Valmori for footage of this time. Many stills also come from the photojournalist Riccordo Carbone from the daily newspaper "Il Mattino”.

Once notices there are few women or young girls from the past that are on the films - they are seldom interviewed, instead young boys tell the story of how they got involved in crime and grew up with the Camorra. Patierno wrote the script with professor and historian on organized crime in Southern Italy, Isaia Sales.

 The Italian musical artist Meg, a former member of the rap and reggae band "99 Posse" does the voiceover who in the beginning and end of the film tells us that in Naples there was no revolution, but a society of plebeians who found ways to make money smuggling cigarettes and drugs and selling them in open markets. This was the way of life. Work is legal - or illegal, and Neapolitans are indifferent to just how money is made to spend the bills. Moreover, the illegitimacy of crime in Naples is regulated by the ruling class"; according to the voiceover "Naples, it is an addiction" that survives in a state of equilibrium with respect to the very deep imbalances among the social classes".

Religious icons and photos of corpses are profiled with hanging wash in alleys, and boys dancing with each other since the girls are not allowed out without chaperones. When we do see women, it is mothers pleading for their children. The wife of Camorran bossRaffaele Cutolo, Rosetta, exonerates her husband doing several lifetime sentences in prison. Cutolo is shown behind bars, nicely dressed, who denies responsibility throughout persistent questioning by journalists about bribes, murders and the vast sums of money behind his organization.

Although the newsreels are moving, editor Valmori brings them alive by combining images and footage, with the customs of the Neapolitans including parading the relics a deceased bishop in a street ritual in his commemoration, with closeups of a vial of his blood. Aerial shots of Naples punctuate the parameters of this lawful and lawless society, an inside portrait of Naples that is authentic because it is not retold but told and brought alive out of the archives of the past.

© 2018 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/26/2018
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