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Should Gomorrah be in the running for an Oscar?

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Ellen West - web producer | 15:02 UK time, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Roberto Saviano, the Italian journalist and author of a gripping expose of the Camorra (what the English translation of the book subtitles "Italy's other Mafia") gives a remarkable interview on The Culture Show tonight.

Roberto Saviano with Lawrence PollardRoberto Saviano with Lawrence Pollard

Gomorrah has sold phenomenally well around the world and alerted people to a branch of Italian organised crime that many were oblivious to. Saviano maps the startling involvement of the Camorra in legitimate businesses, in an empire that extends as close to home as Scotland. In this the book and the film are very different - Saviano is at the centre of the book Gomorrah, talking to heroin addicts, looking through a gangster's holiday snaps (the home of General Kalashnikov is the destination) and reacting to the way that the Camorra dominate the society in which he lives. The film is primarily a visual experience: grimly beautiful but exhausting rather than moving or informative. I missed the wider context, even if while reading the book I sometimes found myself taken aback by Saviano's emotional style. Having learned subsequently that he has to live under armed guard and spends a lot of his time on the move I suppose that he can't be criticised for painting the Camorra in vivid colours. What he has accomplished is remarkable. I've written more about the film here.

So I would personally recommend the book over the film, although if you missed it in the cinema you will have to wait until 9 February for the DVD release. If you watch this week's Culture Show you'll find that Mark Kermode thinks it a travesty that Gomorrah was left off the list, but I still think that the Academy made the right decision. Are you with me or with Mark? Perhaps one for the Kermodes?

Let us know what you think of the interview.


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