Sicilian Letizia Battaglia began a lifelong battle with the Mafia when she first pointed her camera at a brutally slain victim. Documenting the Cosa Nostra's barbaric rule, she bore unflinching witness to their crimes. Her photographs, art, and bravery helped bring an end to a shocking reign of slaughter.Written by
A fine companion to The Irishman and Little Women.
"The first woman (news) photographer in Italy," says Letizia Battaglia of herself.
If Letizia is not that, she is the most daring and outspoken of the bunch. If like me you have some Sicilian DNA in your makeup, you'll want to see this intrepid photographer in Shooting the Mafia begin her career with Wegee-like street photographs and then slip into depicting the Sicilian curse of the Mafia, whose bloody business makes The Irishman look like a school picnic.
Documentarian Kim Longinotto has a similar gift capturing the aging red-headed Battaglia as she reminisces about the Cosa Nostra's corrosive effect on Sicily. In addition, she shows her challenges making their images of brutality meaningful, as well as her many love affairs, some of whom appear in the doc.
In all it's a full look at the robust and dangerous life of Sicily seen through a Pentax and video cameras. The images that don't work as effectively are the large crowd scenes of demonstrators protesting the Mafia. Sometimes, there are images even closer up that don't quite fit the narrative. A shot of Mount Vesuvius erupting goes too far the other way, figuratively speaking.
No moment in this doc is dull; images are powerful. The film at times cross edits shots of Battaglia as a lovely, animated young woman who tells us of her burden being a young mother not allowed to break through education to a more expansive life.
This engrossing doc is pervaded by the undaunted spirit of Battaglia. She is a modern feminist heroine, a companion to the current Little Women. She fearlessly looks in the Mafia's face and photographs it for the world to see the evil that has been in Sicily for centuries. Come to think of it, Shooting the Mafia is also an illustrative companion to the current Irishman and the legendary Godfather.
Also read Theresa Maggio's The Stone Boudoir: Travels Through the Hidden Villages of Italy for a benign view of this beautiful country sans gangsters.
Even for old jaded me, further insights abound, such as my realization that respect is a building block of the Sicilian character. Young men are shown acting out becoming part of the mob, looking to become someone who is admired as he strolls the streets. For me, I now know why I demand a swift return to my emails: respect!
"Photographing trauma is embarrassing." Battaglia
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this