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Italian auteur and Cannes veteran Marco Bellocchio, whose melodrama “Sweet Dreams” screened in Directors’ Fortnight, will make a high-profile film about Tommaso Buscetta, the first high-ranking Italian mob leader to break the Sicilian Mafia’s oath of silence whose testimony helped convict hundreds of Mafia leaders in Italy and the United States.

Working-titled “The Traitor,” the film will see Bellocchio delve into an intriguing piece of recent Italian history, somewhat similarly to the work he did in “Good Morning, Night,” his reconstruction of the 1978 kidnapping and killing of Aldo Moro, Italy’s former prime minister and head of the Christian Democrat party. Just as in “Night,” the core of the film will be the human side of the protagonist.

“I am interested in Buscetta’s character because he is a traitor. “But actually who betrayed the ‘sacred’ principles of Cosa Nostra wasn’t Buscetta,” he added. “It was [then Cosa Nostra boss] Totò Riina and the Corleonesi Clan.” The Corleonesi were a faction within Cosa Nostra who in the 1970’s triggered several internecine wars.

Buscetta’s decision to cooperate with Italian and, later, American prosecutors in 1984 marked the first major “betrayal” within Cosa Nostra’s high-ranks and is considered to have changed the course of a dark chapter in contempo Italian history.

Buscetta’s testimony about heroin smuggling in the ”pizza connection” case in the mid-1980’s allowed him to obtain American citizenship, and a place in the U.S. witness protection program. He died of cancer in 2000 in an undisclosed U.S. location.

His revelations caused him the death of many relatives, including two sons. Buscetta’s family has agreed to Bellocchio’s film being made. It will be based on extensive research done by a team of journalists, testimony from people who knew him, and material in Italian archives.

Bellocchio is writing the screenplay.

The plan is for Bellocchio’s next film to be shot in the United States and Brazil, as well as in Italy.

Production of “The Traitor” is being mounted by “Sweet Dreams” producer Beppe Caschetto’s IBC Movie, who is in talks with prospective international partners.

Rai Cinema, the film unit of Italian pubcaster Rai, is co-producing and will release the film in Italy. Bellocchio’s own Kavac shingle is also on board.

“It will be an international production by one of our auteurs who is best known abroad,” said Rai Cinema topper Paolo Del Brocco.

“Just like Bellocchio gave us a personal portrait of Aldo Moro and an original reconstruction of his travails, we think his vision of history and ability to present a non-conventional read on the facts will serve him well in reconstructing this complex character,” he added.