KIM LONGINOTTO – Director
(From press notes provided by Cohen Media Group, the film’s distributor)
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.
(From the press notes)
Letizia Battaglia is a gifted photographer and an irreverent woman. In SHOOTING THE MAFIA, we explore the story of this remarkable Sicilian, who has defied male authority, her society’s culture and the all-pervasive Mafia, her entire life.
Letizia not only challenged and infuriated the Mafia by bravely photographing their crimes, but was also outspoken at a time and in a place where this was unheard of.
We were determined to make a film that could do her justice. Working with our wonderful editor, Ollie Huddleston, we have woven together archive, classic Italian films, Letizia’s home movies, on-the-spot TV news, and our own filmed footage to take the audience on a journey through the life of this passionate woman.
Letizia’s photographs are astonishingly graphic but they also, strangely, have a kind of heart- stopping beauty. You can sense the resolve of the person behind the lens, a kind of clear-eyed reckoning of unpunished crimes. She is standing up to the bullies and showing great courage to reveal their cowardice.
She is my hero for doing that. – Kim Longinotto
Luciano Liggio was a big shot in the Sicilian Mafia. Guess which one he is in the photo below, taken by Letizia Battaglia (Hint: He’s the guy in a shiny suit and dark glasses, sucking on a cigar. Not too obvious.)
(From the press notes)
Letizia Battaglia was born in Palermo, Sicily in 1935. Married at 16, she took up journalism after her divorce in 1971, while raising three daughters. She picked up a camera when she found that she could better sell her articles if they were accompanied by images and slowly discovered a passion for photography. In 1974, after a period in Milan during which she met her longtime partner, photojournalist Franco Zecchin, she returned to Palermo to work for the left-wing L’Ora newspaper until it folded in 1990.
Battaglia (the name means “battle” in Italian) took close to 600,000 images as she covered the territory for the paper. Over the years she documented the ferocious internal war of the Mafia, and its assault on civil society. Battaglia sometimes found herself at the scene of four or five different murders in a single day. Battaglia produced many of the iconic images that have come to represent Sicily and the Mafia throughout the world. She photographed the dead so often that she was like a roving morgue. “Suddenly,” she once said, “I had an archive of blood.” Her photographs were described by the New York Times as “by turns gruesome, haunting, tragic and, often, achingly poetic.”
Battaglia also became involved in women’s and environmental issues and the rights of prisoners. For several years she stopped taking pictures and officially entered the world of politics. From 1985 to 1997 she held a seat on the Palermo city council for the Green Party. She was instrumental in saving and reviving the historic center of Palermo. She founded a publishing house, Edizioni della Battaglia, and still publishes a monthly journal for women, Mezzocielo.
In my previous post on this film, I neglected to mention the excellent music score by Ray Harman, as well as the inspired use of two versions of the classic song, “Volare.”
Also, in addition to opening on Friday, November 22 at the Quad Cinema in New York, Shooting the Mafia is also opening the same day in Santa Monica, CA.
On Friday, November 29 it opens in San Francisco at the Landmark Opera Plaza Cinema; in Washington, DC at the West End Cinema; and in Phoenix, AZ at the Harkins Shea 14.
Big thanks to Susan Norget at Susan Norget Film Promotions for this updated release information, and especially for the screener link that enabled me to see Shooting the Mafia again, which provided an abundance of detail I would not have otherwise have had, and hopefully made this a better piece.
That’s all for now. See you at the movies. — Ted Hicks