Shooting the Mafia
Can a series of photographs fight back against tyranny and a culture of fear? Director Kim Longinotto’s latest documentary, Shooting the Mafia, explores just that by looking at the life and work of fearless photojournalist Letizia Battaglia.
At a time when she was surrounded by personal, political and societal turmoil, Battaglia started working for Sicilian newspaper L’Ora and quickly discovered that she preferred to tell stories through the lens of a camera, rather than through writing. Her images of the poverty, violence and despair that ran through Palermo were, and still are, incredibly striking and heart-breaking. These courageous photos confronted the overwhelming issues taking place in Sicily at a time when most people were mostly too frightened to confront the hold the Mafia had over their country.
As a profile of an inspiring and vivacious woman, Shooting the Mafia is an engaging and powerful documentary. Viewers expecting a deeper understanding of the history of the Mafia may be disappointed. The film darts back and forth from the subject’s personal story, providing insights into historic events and courtroom dramas surrounding the abundance of organised crime at the time. The wider examinations of the impact the Mafia had on politics and everyday life somewhat confuse the flow of the feature. The immediacy of Battaglia’s narrative and her unique telling of how the Cosa Nostra affected her life, work and fellow Sicilians would have been more than enough for this documentary.
Yet, ultimately, what audiences are left with is a powerful picture that transports us from the Hollywood depictions of life under the mob to a stunningly truthful view of how life really was under such awful circumstances. Battaglia is a fascinating individual with an outstanding story to tell, both through her photographs and her personal history.
Shooting the Mafia is a must-watch for anyone who wants to witness how one daring woman refused to stay quiet and used her art as a weapon against the injustice and terror experienced by so many.
Shooting the Mafia is released in select cinemas on 29th November 2019.
Watch the trailer for Shooting the Mafia here: