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Moira Jean Sullivan

Moira Sullivan is a member of FIPRESCI and Alliance for Women Film Journalists. She writes for three venues:



"Camorra" in Venice Horizons section looks back on organized crime in Naples

Raffaele Cutolo

"Camorra" by Francesco Patierno, a documentary in the Venice "Orizzonti" section attempts to unravel the origins of organized crime in the region of Compania and capital Naples on its own terms through historic newreel footage and photojournalism. Editor Maria Fantastica Valmori is behind the montage of this footage from the 1970's to 1990's that feels like a continuous essay, relentless shocking and disturbing- a mosaic of violence and poverty on the background of rival gangs and multiple homicides through the years.

Director Francesco Patierno has culled the archives of Rai Teche and Valmori gives the material a pulse when assembling it. Many stills from the photojournalist Riccordo Carbone from "Il Mattino are included.There are few women or young girls in the historic footage - they are seldom interviewed, instead young boys tell the story of how they got involved in crime and grew up with Camorra. Patierno who wrote the script with professor and historian on organized crime in Southern Italy, Isaia Sales, begins the film with a voice over read Italian musical artist Meg, a former member of the rap and reggae band "99 Posse": in Naples, there was no revolution, but a society of plebians who found ways to make money smuggling cigarettes and drugs and selling them in open markets. There is either legal work or illegal, and Neopolitans are indifferent to just how money is made to spend the bills. As Meg continues, "the illegitimacy of crime in Naples is regulated by the ruling class"; "Naples, is an addiction" that survives in a state of equilibrium with respect to the very deep imbalances presetn among the social classes".

Religious icons and photos of corpses are juxaposed with hanging wash in alleys, garbage and boys dancing with each other. Mothers plead for their children; the wife of Camorran boss Raffaele Cutolo, Rosetta Cutolo, insists her husband doing several lifetime sentences in prison is innocent. She, like him,  has an uncanny way of discarding any question about the murders, the bribes, the vast sums of money behind his organization.  Cutolo is shown behind bars, nicely dressed, fielding questions and denying culpability so that you actually feel tempted to believe him.

The camera is mobile through most of the newsreels but Valmori makes them feel kinetic when combining images and footage, whether interviews, street scenes, interior shots or closeups of a vial of blood of a deceased bishop in a street ritual in his honor. Aerial shots of Naples often punctuate this study of a lawless society, a society of plebians making a living, whose means meets their ends. What is outstanding in this documentary for an outsider to Italian politics and internal affairs, is how the assemblage of historic material reveals an inside portrait of Naples that is authentic and brought alive out of the archives of the past.


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