July 30, 2020  (Web Review)

Shooting the Mafia

(2019) 94 min. Italian w/English subtitles. DVD: $21.95, Blu-ray: $27.95. Cohen Media Group.

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Filmmaker Kim Longinotto profiles Letizia Battaglia of Sicily, who was Italy’s first full-time female photojournalist, for the daily L’Ora newspaper of Palermo. She later won election to the government on the Green Party ticket, (an interlude she said was the worst, least productive facet of her je-ne-regrette-rien tumultuous life). A teenage virgin bride who rebelled against a conservative, Catholic upbringing – being thrust into a convent by her father converted her to atheism instantly, Letizia says – she found she enjoyed telling stories via picture-taking rather than through words. And in 1970s Sicily, she found abundant material, especially in crime and the unfolding scandal of the Mafia spreading tentacles of organized crime into every walk of life. Viewers should be warned of intense material: nudity and gruesome death scenes captured on camera (animals as well people). Charting Battaglia’s life as well as the crime syndicates, Longinotto makes good use of archival clips and torrid Italian melodrama films full of bellissima actresses (Letizia had multiple affairs, including her co-workers). Meanwhile, the narrative finds a parallel in brutal campaigns of the Corleone Mafia (killing high-profile judges in the wake of a historic crackdown on mobsters in the 1980s) with the oppression and devaluation of women in the island’s tradition-bound society. Letizia, now experimenting with fine-art imagery, has mounted exhibitions of her crime pictures, even as she claims a conflicted relationship with her output, lamenting the violence, grief, horror, and social failure she captured and fantasizing she could burn all her negatives and be rid of it. Extras include an interview with Longinotto, checking boxes in true crime, politics/European issues, women’s topics, and, of course, photography. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (M. Sandlin)