Genoa-born Carola Mamberto never envisioned herself as a filmmaker. After six years’ experience in print journalism overseas, she sought a master’s degree from Berkeley for the sole purpose of transitioning to U.S. news. Two years later, she found herself graduating from a completely different discipline and the recipient of multiple awards, including a student Emmy and a Goldman Prize.
She credits her success to Berkeley’s documentary program, overseen by Jon Else. “They encourage you to be really creative and to experiment and not to try to fit certain markets or models,” she says.
Mamberto’s documentary thesis, entitled “Pizzo,” chronicles the struggles of ordinary Sicilians who oppose the local Mafia. A unique glimpse into a community’s unspoken shame, the film attracted more participants than an Italian production might, because no one figured it would be seen outside of America.
PBS even expressed an interest in the finished project, and aired “Pizzo” as the lead story on “Frontline/ World” in January. When it did play Palermo, “They screened it in a piazza in this little rundown neighborhood,” Mamberto says. “I could sense people were being completely absorbed because it’s the story of their city.”