Anica selects Mafia drama

MILAN — “Gomorra,” the critically acclaimed Neapolitan crime drama helmed by Matteo Garrone, is Italy’s entry for the foreign-language film Oscar.

The hard-hitting take on the city’s notorious Camorra crime syndicate scored with both the critics and the public — and has now been unanimously backed by a 15-strong panel of the Italian motion picture association, Anica, to represent the country.

Based on a best-selling non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Roberto Saviano, “Gomorra” grabbed the jury prize at Cannes earlier this year, and must now be considered a strong contender for the Oscar.

It was selected by the Anica ahead of four other films: “Cover Boy” by Carmine Amoroso, “Il Divo” by Paolo Sorrentino, “Giorni e Nuvole” (Days and Clouds) by Silvio Soldini and “Tutta la Vita Davanti” (All of the Life Ahead) by Paolo Virzi.

“Gomorra,” which was produced by Domenico Procacci for Fandango in collaboration with RAI Cinema, grabbed the Oscar entry following plaudits for its gritty, neorealist style that relied on the use of non-professional actors plucked from the Camorra’s stamping ground.

But the film also had the good fortune to be released in a year when the crime group’s notoriety rose to new heights. It made headlines with its involvement in the Naples garbage crisis, mini-pogroms against gypsy squatter camps and lately a slew of killings, including last week’s massacre of Africans that was described by one senior police officer as “ethnic cleansing.”

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