BOXOFFICE was able to speak with writer/director Matteo Garrone about his unconventional mob flick, Gomorrah.

Inside 'Gomorrah'

on February 17, 2009 by Phil Contrino

The difficulties surrounding most of Hollywood's literary adaptations sound like minor squabbles when compared to the story behind Gomorrah, an unconventional mob film from Italian writer/director Matteo Garrone.

Robert Saviano, the author of the book Gomorrah has been under police protection since October 13, 2006. His book exposed some of the inner workings of the pervasive Italian crime syndicate known as the Camorra, which plagues such as Italian provinces as Naples and Caserta. The Camorra has its fingers in everything from illegal drugs to construction, but the most disturbing fact of all may be that they have even bought shares in the reconstruction of the Twin Towers in New York City.

When Garrone first started to adapt the project for the bigscreen, Saviano had yet to encounter any hostility. Yet as the adaption process moved forward, Saviano started to experience some problems and the production became more dangerous.

"When I went to shoot in the real territory, I was very worried about that," Garrone told B OXOFFICE when discussing the hostility surrounding Gomorrah. "But I found that people there love cinema so much that they don't care if it comes from Saviano's book."


"When you go inside that reality–I lived for six months there, in that territory–you discover that there's not a clear line between good or bad, legal or illegal ... So, we tried to tell the conflict. Most of them are not aware of their condition, and that's why we could shoot the movie," added Garrone.

In fact, Garrone found himself surrounded not by the mob but by curious onlookers as he began to shoot the film.

"The most important test was to see their reactions to what we were doing," said Garrone.

Even though it was mysteriously snubbed in the Best Foreign Film category when the Oscar nominations were announced, Gomorrah certainly captured the attention of Hollywood. It has received almost universal critical praise and it won the endorsement of Martin Scorsese, whose name appears above the film's title now that it is playing in the United States.

"Of course it's a great honor," said Garrone about the flattering endorsement. "Martin Scorsese is one of my favorite directors, and it's important for me and the movie. It was very touching for me to see him come to the screening [in New York City] to present the movie. Also, the things that he said about the movie were very deep and precise. Sometimes you understand better what you've done thanks to the point of view of people on the outside."

Gomorrah is now playing in select locations.

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