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Shooting the Mafia

Synopsis

Sicilian Letizia Battaglia began a lifelong battle with the Mafia when she first dared to point her camera at a brutally slain victim. A woman whose passions led her to ditch traditional family life and become a photojournalist, she found herself on the front lines during one of the bloodiest chapters in Italy’s recent history. She fearlessly and artfully captured everyday Sicilian life—from weddings and funerals to the grisly murders of ordinary citizens—to tell the narrative of the community she loved forced into silence by the Cosa Nostra. SHOOTING THE MAFIA weaves together Battaglia’s striking black-and-white photographs, rare archival footage, classic Italian films, and the now 84-year-old’s own memories, to paint a portrait of a remarkable woman whose whose bravery and defiance helped expose the Mafia’s brutal crimes.

The Filmmakers

Kim Longinotto Director

Kim Longinotto is a multi-award-winning documentary filmmaker, well known for making films about female outsiders and rebels. Among her 20 films, she has followed a teenager struggling to become a wrestling star in Gaea Girls (2000), looked at runaway girls in Iran in Runaway (2001), challenged the tradition of female genital mutilation in Kenya in The Day I Will Never Forget (2002), introduced Cameroon female judges in Sisters in Law (2005) and brave South African child advocates in Rough Aunties (2008), shown women standing up to rapists in India in Pink Saris (2010), and told the story of an Indian Muslim woman who smuggled poetry out to the world while locked up by her family in Salma (2013). Longinotto’s most recent film, Dreamcatcher (2015), looks at the life and work of an ex-prostitute who rescues Chicago girls from the street.

Niamh Fagan Producer

Irish producer Niamh Fagan started out working in feature film cutting rooms in Hollywood, London and Ireland. She learned the craft of storytelling and filmmaking from the likes of Jim Clarke, Johnny Jymson, and Gerry Hambling while working on films with directors as diverse as Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan, Michael Caton-Jones, and Anjelica Huston. From being an accomplished editor, Fagan gravitated towards producing more than a decade ago, creating award-winning TV dramas for Ireland's national broadcasters. Shooting the Mafia is Niamh's first feature documentary for cinema. She was driven to make the film following a chance meeting in a park in the small Sicilian town of Corleone, which lead her to discover Letizia Battaglia's extraordinary work in the local Anti-Mafia Museum. Fagan, and her production company Lunar Pictures, operate from Westport on Ireland's wild Atlantic coast.

Festivals & Awards

Sundance Film Festival

2019

In the streets of Sicily, beautiful, gutsy Letizia Battaglia pointed her camera straight into the heart of the Mafia that surrounded her and began to shoot. The striking, life-threatening photos she took documenting the rule of the Cosa Nostra define her career.

Battaglia was quite the catch. She married young and had children, yet her restless spirit refused to renounce her passions. Breaking with tradition, she devoted herself to photojournalism. Battaglia’s lens was defiant: though her life was in danger she fearlessly captured everyday Sicilian life—from weddings and funerals to the brutal murders of women and children—to tell the narrative of the community she loved that had been forced into silence.

In Shooting the Mafia, Sundance Film Festival alumna and master filmmaker Kim Longinotto breaks from her vérité past and stunningly weaves together Battaglia’s heart-wrenching black-and-white photographs, rare archival film, and candid conversations with Battaglia herself. This audacious documentary brings grit, texture, and critical new perspective to Battaglia’s work and dismantles the romantic narrative of the Sicilian Mafia from the perspective of someone who lived inside it.

+ Festival Website