Italian army cannot defeat Mafia, says 'Gomorrah' director

24th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

Matteo Garrone, whose acclaimed film Gomorrah is being tipped for the Oscars best foreign film prize, says the deployment of Italian troops to the Naples region earlier this year was a "superficial" gesture.

Los Angeles -- The Italian director of a hit movie about the Naples Mafia believes that attempting to defeat the mob by military force is doomed to fail and eradicating organized crime may take a generation.

Matteo Garrone, whose acclaimed film Gomorrah is being tipped for the Oscars best foreign film prize, told AFP that the deployment of Italian troops to the Naples region earlier this year was a "superficial" gesture.

Loosening the Camorra crime syndicate's grip on the institutions of every day life in Naples and its surrounding areas could only be done from the inside, he said.

"The idea of bringing the army to fight them is, for me, superficial," Garrone told AFP. "It's good for the image of the Italian government, but it won't do anything to fix the problem.

"You have to work from the inside, to create a relationship between citizens and the institutions of power. The Camorra is very strong because they live there, they grew up there, they are close to people.

"If you don't work from the inside it will be very difficult. Bringing the army won't fix it. It may take a generation because the problems are deep -- education, unemployment -- many, many reasons."

Garrone's film is Italy's entry for the Academy Awards foreign language category and has already scooped honors at the European Film Awards and Cannes Film Festival, where it took the prestigious Grand Jury Prize.

The success of the film has coincided with refocused attention on the plight of Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, who penned the fact-based book upon which Garrone's movie is based.

Saviano has been in hiding and living under 24-hour police protection since 2006. Recent reports in Italy said the Camorra have ordered the writer "dead by Christmas."

Despite the success of his film, Garrone has escaped threats from the mafia. His movie paints a grim and pitiless portrait of the criminal underworld, skillfully interweaving five stories that illustrate how the murderous tentacles of the Camorra have spread far and wide.

"My way is different from Saviano because Saviano wrote a book and named names, it came from reality," Garrone explained.

"Saviano is a journalist. He attacked the boss of Camorra when he went to present the book and he became a sort of symbol of the war against Camorra. I'm a filmmaker. This is a movie about Camorra. It's not pro-Camorra or against Camorra. It's about Camorra. We didn't want to judge."

Garrone said his view of organized crime and its effects on ordinary people changed during filming on location as he spoke to the local population.

"I thought it was easy to understand this phenomenon, that it was black and white. But it's not. There's a very confused line between people who are part of the system and ordinary people," Garrone said.

"For sure, if you grow up there you are conditioned to the system. Nobody forces you to join Camorra, but it's very easy to do that if that's what you want."

Although Garrone's movie bears little resemblance to traditional Hollywood portrayals of the mafia, where mobsters are routinely glamorized, the director admitted he had decided to pay homage to the gangster genre with the film's gruesome opening, an ultra-violent bloodbath in a tanning salon.

It also came as a result of Garrone's discovery from speaking to locals that many Camorra mobsters regularly hit the sun beds to top up their tans.

"It's a classic scene from a gangster movie -- the barber shop killing," Garrone said.

"This is a modern way of doing it. While we were preparing the film, we discovered that a lot of the people connected to the system went to the tanning salon every day to meet each other.

"I'm an artist so visually the idea of dead bodies in a tanning room was very interesting to me but it's also classic."


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