Mob film on way to Oscars – cast members head to prison

After winning second prize at Cannes, Gomorrah has been tipped for Oscar glory. But if the Italian film does pick up any Academy Awards, its director, Matteo Garrone, may be without a cast member or two to cheer him on. Two have been detained and a third is being investigated over allegations of real-life mafia involvement.

Dubbed as the most realistic screen depiction of the mafia, the movie Gomorrah is a bleak and ruthless look at the all-pervasive organized crime network in Naples. It is based closely on a non-fiction book by Roberto Saviano whose frank and fervent account provoked death threats against him.

To capitalize on realism, Garrone cast a number of locals from Naples’s most crime-ridden suburbs in several roles. Bernardino Terracciano, 53, who plays Uncle Bernardino in the film, was arrested on suspicion of extorting protection money and having ties to the Casalesi clan, part of the Camorra mafia.

The Camorra families of Naples have created an oligarchy of power and violence. Their profits are estimated at over $233 billion per year. This money comes not just from expected areas like drugs and waste disposal but high-end fashion and pirated knockoffs, whose raw materials arrive from China and are directed exclusively through Camorra businesses.

Gomorrah is an eye-opening and brave depiction of the misery and far reaching consequences of mafia rule. It does for the Italian Mafia what The Godfather and The Sopranos did for American organized crime. But Gomorrah is real. Investigative reporter Roberto Saviano, a lifelong native of Naples, reveals the criminal underbelly of his city in frightening detail.