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‘Shooting the Mafia’ from a Mayo perspective


Áine Ryan

A DOCUMENTARY produced by Westport-based film-maker Niamh Fagan, of TG4’s Rásaí na Gallaimhe fame, has been shortlisted for its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Directed by Kim Longinotto, ‘Shooting the Mafia’ is ‘an unflinching portrait of the Sicilian Mafia’ which contrasts with its ‘all pervasive romanticised and glamourised media image’.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Niamh Fagan said: “I still can’t believe it! Being invited to have the world premiere of my film at the Sundance Film Festival is an amazing endorsement of the film and more importantly of an amazing woman, Letizia Battaglia. She is one of the strongest and most courageous women I’ve ever met and I’m really delighted that this honour is to be given to her and her story.
“I was driven to make the film following an accidental meeting in a park in the small town of Corleone, Sicily, which lead to me discovering Letizia Battaglia's extraordinary work in the town's Anti-Mafia Museum. The film tells Letizia's story against the backdrop of the Corleonesi Mafia's brutal reign of terror in Palermo.”
Shot through the photographic lens of Letizia Battaglia, the film brings the viewer into a ‘world of ritualised slaughter, omertà, semi-religious oppression and feudal control’.

Brutality and power
The film promoters explain: “The scale of the mafia’s brutality and power is revealed through a combination of rare archive footage, newsreel and personal photographs and memories. The power of Letizia's photography and the bravery and dedication of people like her helped to finally bring to an end the brutal reign of a bunch of small town thugs whose reign of fear reached as far as the Italian presidency.”
‘Shooting the Mafia’ is one of five Irish productions and co-productions to premiere at the prestigious festival in the US. All five were awarded funding by Screen Ireland, formerly known as the Irish Film Board.
Niamh Fagan moved to Westport some years ago with her partner, Eoin Holmes of Loch Measc Gin, and their four children.
“I love living and working in Westport. I think that the positivity and energy of Mayo make it a great place to be a film producer.  And I just got word today, that the Berlin Film Festival have invited us to have our European Premiere there in February,” she told The Mayo News.