Pierfrancesco “Pif” Diliberto, Italian TVs answer to Jon Stewart ‘s first movie is clever child’s eye view of what it was like for normal people living under the mafia’s thumb in 1980s and 90s Palermo. Diliberto directed, starred in, and cowrote this uniquely entertaining take on a very serious theme, the mafia’s killing spree that resulted in the deaths of judges, politicians, and police officers and reached fever pitch with the famous “Maxi-Trial”.
The film’s protagonist, young Arturo, hears the adults talking and knows that something’s going on, but he’s decided that Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti’s got it covered and there’s nothing to worry about. After all, none of the adults seem particularly concerned and “it’s winter, and the Mafia only kills people in the summer”. If this is just the story that adults tell their children to ease their fears, they seem to (at least want to) believe it too, along with other fantasies about the Mafia and Prime Minister Andreotti. It’s easier and safer to believe that danger is Naples’ problem, not theirs.
But as the violence escalates, Arturo, like the rest of Palermo, must face the truth, gather courage, and try to stand up to the mob. Diliberto’s intertwining of actual footage from the era with the fictional characters really drives home the emotion and sadness of the situation in a very sweet way.
And since Italy isn’t exactly “mob-free” even today I imagine that making this movie and its tribute to those who died trying to free the country from Mafia clutches was a brave act on Diliberto’s part, as well.
He’s not going to win any acting awards for the part of grown up Arturo, but his is a pretty impressive first time effort as director and screenwriter. La Mafia Uccide Solo D’Estate also stars the cute as a button Cristiana Capotondi as Flora, Arturo’s love interest.