You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Witness in Danger

"Witness in Danger" tells the true story of Piero Nava, who witnessed a Mafia hit on an Italian magistrate and refused to remain silent, paying with the loss of his home, job and identity to protect himself and his family. Director Pasquale Pozzessere fashions a tense thriller from the case, not with threats of Mob violence but with cool assessment of the nightmare of an honest man forced by circumstance to question the wisdom of his integrity. Solid performances and an intelligent script mark this small-scale drama, which could work on offshore TV. Fabrizio Bentivoglio plays Nava, an ordinary Milanese salesman who was driving along a Sicilian highway to make a professional call in Agrigento in 1990 when he saw two Mob hit men at the scene of Judge Rosario Livatino's assassination. He reported the incident to local police and subsequently identified the killers during the trial that led to their imprisonment for life.

Piero Nava ... Fabrizio Bentivoglio Sandro Nardella ... Claudio Amendola Franca Nava ... Margherita Buy Cataldi ... Arnaldo Ninchi Turrini ... Maurizio Donadoni Luciani ... Carlo Cartier

Scripted by Pozzessere with Furio and Giacomo Scarpelli and Pietro Calderoni, who wrote the book on which the film is based, “Witness” recounts Nava’s bitter personal odyssey through the maddening bureaucracy and double-standards of a system that supposedly encourages constructive individual action in the fight against Cosa Nostra, but indirectly penalizes those who come forward. Ironically, the film underlines that in terms of witness protection, the only solid structures in place are those designed to shelter pentiti, Mafia turncoats.

Central to the drama is the interplay between three characters: Nava; his strained but supportive wife, Franca (Margherita Buy); and Sandro Nardella (Claudio Amendola), the police official assigned as Nava’s liaison who also becomes increasingly angry at the authorities’ apparent indifference. The couple and their children are shuffled from one isolated house to another, unable to contact their friends or family, while they sit out the interminable wait for the fake passports that will enable them to resume some kind of normal life in another country.

The eventual arrival of new papers, coupled with the frustration and financial difficulty of getting set up again with only minimal government assistance, makes a suitably hollow note on which to end. While this denies the film a dramatic final act, the absence serves to further distance Pozzessere’s measured approach from that of the hackneyed imperiled-witness thriller.

The film’s real core is Bentivoglio’s calm, controlled portrayal of a man who has been made a prisoner, undercranking both the character’s moral fortitude and most of the visible manifestations of the tension compromising his marriage and mental stability. Buy and especially Amendola provide strong support. Visually, the pic could have used more punch. Lenser Luca Bigazzi has gone for a gray, claustrophobic feel that makes sense given the subdued dramatic tone, but gives the film a rather flat look.

Witness in Danger


Production: A Medusa release in association with Istituto Luce (in Italy) of a Taodue Film, Istituto Luce production in association with Mediaset. (International sales: Sacis, Rome.) Produced by Pietro Valsecchi. Directed by Pasquale Pozzessere. Screenplay, Furio Scarpelli, Pietro Calderoni, Giacomo Scarpelli, Pozzessere, based on Calderoni's book, "L'Avventura di un Uomo Tranquillo."

Crew: Camera (Cinecitta color), Luca Bigazzi; editor, Carlo Valerio; music, Franco Piersanti; art direction, Francesco Frigeri; costume design, Lia Morandini; sound (Dolby) Mario Iaquone; associate producer, Luca Formenton; assistant director, Giovanni Vaccarelli. Reviewed at CDC screening room, Rome, Jan. 31, 1997. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: Piero Nava ... Fabrizio Bentivoglio Sandro Nardella ... Claudio Amendola Franca Nava ... Margherita Buy Cataldi ... Arnaldo Ninchi Turrini ... Maurizio Donadoni Luciani ... Carlo Cartier

More Film

  • Sygeplejeskolen sc 205

    Claudia Boderke, Lars Mering Talk ‘The New Nurses,’ Gender, Class

    The inevitable comparison for SF Studios’ “The New Nurses,” at least from a Danish broadcast perspective, is “Something’s Rockin,’” another 2018 TV 2 Charlie show which was retro but forward-looking. “Something’s Rockin’” described the birth of an independent radio with culture in Denmark. Produced by SF Studios’ Senia Dremstrup (“Norskov”),  “The New Nurses” talks cleverly [...]

  • Robert Redford

    Robert Redford to Receive Honorary Cesar Award

    Legendary American actor and director Robert Redford is set to receive an honorary Cesar award, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, at the 44th annual César ceremony, which will take place on Feb. 22 in Paris. “An iconic actor, an exceptional director, a passionate producer, founder and president of Sundance, the most revered festival of independent [...]

  • Goteborg: Co-writer Hakan Lindhe on Viaplay’s

    Co-Writer Hakan Lindhe on Politics, Image in Viaplay’s ‘The Inner Circle’

    David Ehrling, Sweden’s Minister for Enterprise, who is tipped to be its next Prime Minister, spends a lot of the time in Sweden’s “The Inner Circle” not preparing his speeches, or in impassioned discussion of key political issues, but staring into the mirror, rain checking on his strong-jawed image. He spends much of his enterprise, [...]

  • 'Invisibles' Director Louis-Julien Petit On His

    'Invisibles' Director Louis-Julien Petit on his Socially-Minded Smash

    PARIS —  Far from a dumping ground, the months of January and February have become synonymous in France with the kinds of highly polished crowd-pleasing comedies that dominate the annual box-office. This year is no exception, only nestled among the likely blockbusters “Serial Bad Weddings 2” and “City Hunter” is Louis-Julien Petit’s socially minded dramedy [...]

  • "The Continent," directed by Chinese racer

    Alibaba Pictures Buys Into Chinese Director Han Han's Film Studio

    Alibaba Pictures confirmed that it has invested an undisclosed amount in Chinese celebrity blogger-turned-film director Han Han’s Shanghai Tingdong Film. Han’s upcoming “Pegasus” is one of the most anticipated films of the year in China. Alibaba Pictures, part of e-commerce giant Alibaba, is now the second-largest stakeholder in Tingdong. It has a 13.1% stake, according to Chinese [...]

  • Nicolas Philibert Talks Nursing Documentary 'Each

    Nicolas Philibert: 'A Director Driven To Make A Statement Cannot Make Cinema'

    PARIS  — For over two decades, French documentarian Nicolas Philibert has examined his country’s various public institutions with a watchmaker’s calm and anthropologist’s curiosity. In films like “To Be and To Have,” “La Maison de la Radio” and “Louvre City,” he’s taken his camera into schoolhouses, broadcast hubs and the world’s most famous museum. His [...]

  • 'Don't Come Back from the Moon'

    Film Review: 'Don't Come Back from the Moon'

    Cinematographer-turned-director Bruce Thierry Cheung offers an artful and affecting mix of harshly defined specifics and impressionistic storytelling in “Don’t Come Back from the Moon,” a cumulatively poignant drama about absent fathers and abandoned families in an economically devastated desert community. Structured more like a tone poem than a conventional narrative, it’s an elliptical memory play [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content