Film Reviews

Review: ‘Shooting the Mafia’

Hot Docs 2019

Film subject Letizia Battaglia’s photo Palermo, 1982. Vicino alla Chiesa di Santa Chiara. Il gioco del killer. (“Palermo, 1982. Near the Church of Santa Chiara. The game of the killer.”) in Shooting the Mafia, directed by Kim Longinotto.
Courtesy of Lunar Pictures.

Shooting the Mafia
(Ireland, 94 min.)
Dir. Kim Longinotto
Programme: Artscapes (Canadian Premiere)

Kim Longinotto turns her lens on Letizia Battaglia, an 83-year-old photographer who helped document the violence that has plagued her native Sicily. As one of the first photojournalists to cover the brutal mafia wars, Battagliia has become a fixture in local society, praised for her outspoken nature and keen eye. Unfortunately, Longinotto’s own work seems jumbled and uncertain, and never fully comes to grips with a subject who is admittedly reticent to truly open up about her work and passions. Jumping from era to era, the film never quite coalesces into a coherent portrait, resulting in a doc that is often more frustrating than illuminating.

This is all the more problematic as the subject seems ripe for a rich investigation – how the mafia itself used these tableaus of violence to send a message, in turn both manipulating and feeding off the media’s interest. Instead, Shooting the Mafia affords a genial if unremarkable look at a figure surely deserving of a better film by which her story should be told.

Shooting the Mafia screens:
-Tues, Apr. 30 at 9:30 p.m. at TIFF Lightbox
-Wed, May 1 at 10:15 a.m. at Isabel Bader
-Sun, May 5 at 9:15 p.m. at Isabel Bader

Visit the POV Hot Docs Hub for more coverage from this year’s festival!

Hot Docs runs April 25 to May 5. Please visit for more info.