Matteo Garrone's New Film Gomorrah

The Italian film-maker on his prize-winning Mafia drama.

Image
Directed by Matteo Garrone, Gomorrah is the powerful and uncompromising new film about Italy's criminal underbelly, the Camorra. The film is an adaptation of Roberto Saviano's bestselling expose of  the Neapolitan mafia. Power, greed, and blood drive the five storylines in this documentary-style film, all of which depict a different side of the Camorra, and illustrate the ways in which its horrors and undeniable control effects not only those involved, but everyone in the region.

Dazed Digital: What drew you to the subject of the Camorra?
Matteo Garrone: When I read the book by Saviano I found it very interesting because he talked about the Camorra in different way- from the inside. It surprised me and I thought it would be exciting to make a mafia movie that wasn't glamorous, but rather about faces, location and truth. The book was full of strong imagery, and I wanted to use that same language.

DD: What steps did you take to ensure the movie you were making was authentic?
MG: Originally when I was writing the screenplay I worked with Saviano and other people who know a lot about the reality of the Camorra. However, when I moved to Naples to start shooting, after talking with the people and seeing the locations, so many things in the script changed. We got to shoot on the real Camorra territory, and when you are there, everyone is involved in the system. It's impossible not to be. So because of this it was very important for me to listen to the stories of the people around me.

Also, most of the actors in the film came from local theatre companies. Some even came from regional prison theatre companies. It was important for me to get people that weren't just good actors, but who had the right look and knew the background of the subject.

DD: What was the mood on set like?
MG: It was interesting. When I was shooting there was always lots of people behind the monitor watching what was going on - sometimes up to as many as fifty or sixty. A lot of them were involved in the system, and would inject their opinions. One time, when I was shooting a scene with the drug dealer, the actual local drug dealer was watching from behind me, giving the actors tips. It was a very different experience for me, but it was a good test having those people around. They acted as my first audience for the movie.

DD: What made you decide not to use music in the film?
MG: I wanted to be invisible as a director - to shoot the film as if it was a documentary. Because of this I felt it was more important to use the sound from the inside rather than bringing in outside sound. Using music would have felt like I was making a comment. The only music in the film is at the very end, which was a song specially written for the film by Massive Attack.

Gamorrah is out on October 10.
More Arts+Culture