Sydney Film Festival Review: Shooting the Mafia

Shooting The Mafia is a documentary that focuses on photographer Letizia Battaglia. She was the first news photographer in Italy and was famed for her photographs of mafia directed killings.

A mixture of the photographs, contemporary film as well as present day interviews. The gruesome images are sobering and the filming of people’s grief-ridden reactions are particularly powerful.

Director Kim Longinotto makes the interesting choice of splicing footage from classic Italian cinema. The myths and romanticism of those films contrast sharply with the tragic reality that Battaglia was chronicling. The modern footage is simply made, letting Battaglia tell her story as simply and honestly as possible.

An audience favourite at the Berlin Film Festival, the film highlights the despair and emotional toll of the killings which Battaglia spent the better part of 40 years photographing.

Battaglia showed an astonishing bravery in capturing images and the resolve to maintain her professionalism and get on with the work.

Curiously the banality of these murderous acts are reflected in the very ordinary looking old men who decide if someone is murdered or not.

Now in her 80’s you might think her life is a triumph, but her, ‘archive of blood,’ feels more like a tragedy. A powerful documentary shedding light on a powerful photographer.

Michael Collins

Shooting the Mafia screens on Sunday June 9.

Saturday 8th of June, 2019

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