Star of TV and film, director, writer and actor Piefrancesco Diliberto, known as Pif, seems to be answering a sort of calling with his first two films, La Mafia Uccide Solo D’Estate (The Mafia Only Kills In The Summer), and his latest, In Guerra Per Amore (At War With Love). In them, he delivers lessons about Italy, Sicily, and the history of the Italian Mafia in a very entertaining way.
“I cry every time I watch the end of ‘La Mafia Uccide Solo D’Estate’ (where Pif pays a bittersweet tribute to judges and politicians killed during the famous Maxi-trials in the ’80s and ’90s), and ‘In Guerra Per Amore’ is very moving as well”, I told Pif. “Is this your mission is life; crime fighting? Are you a mafia crime fighter?”
“I’m not Batman”, he assured me, “but I hope to contribute in some way, in the sense that the more people know about this, the more we can address it. The more awareness, the more you can remember the people who died fighting against them, the more we will continue to defeat the Mafia.”
“For me, when I was little, I lived a very normal life. When I was in school we absolutely never spoke about it (the Mafia); it was as though, if we never spoke about it, it wasn’t true. If you see it, it’s too horrifying.
“Did parents really tell their children not to worry because ‘the mafia only kills in the summer?’ “I asked Pif.
“My parents? No, but I met Paolo Borsellini’s daughter Fiammetta and she told me that her father used to try to ease her fears by saying it to her, as a joke. As for my family, we didn’t worry about it too much because it didn’t concern us.”
Considering that Roberto Saviano had to go into witness protection and live the rest of his life for writing his book, Gomorrah, I’ve been naturally concerned for Pierfrancesco’s safety after making two films that didn’t present the Mafia in a very positive light.
“You’re not afraid?” I asked him.
“No”, he shrugged. “The Sicilian Mafia is much less powerful than it used to be. And after making the film the fact is I’m still alive and able to walk the streets of Palermo.”
“Even when you see what’s happened to Saviano?”
“Saviano was dealing with the Mafia in Naples, the Camorra, and the Camorra is still very powerful.”
Don’t mess with them”, I laughed.
“Right”, he said. “And if you deal with the Calabrian Mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta, you’ll have real problems.”
My next question was one of those “Captain Obvious” ones that I felt like asking anyway: What was more important for you; In Guerra Per Amore’s love story or the history lesson?
He rolled his eyes (I had that coming). “Obviously the love story was just an excuse to give the more important history lesson.” (I reminded him that the love story was very cute, though.)
“I really wanted to tell this story about the mafia”, he told me, “because as far as I knew it had never been told before, not even in American films. Of course there were many people who died to liberate Italy in WWII; that said, in those days the Mafia served as a useful thing for everybody and played a big role.” (Don’t know what that is? See the movie!)
“I don’t want to make movies like my predecessors”, he told me. I don’t want to make movies in Rome…”
“Ask him why”, laughed Cinecittà Luce rep Monique Catalino, who was sitting in just in case I had trouble with the Italian.
“Because every time a movie is made in Rome and every time there is a scene with a car, it’s filmed on the Lungotevere (the road that runs alongside the Tiber), and all the other scenes are in the historic center. The world is too beautiful to limit it to that.”
“I’d love to make a film in America, obviously, but my dream is to make a movie that, all over the world, in Italy too, but for instance in New York people could see it and say, “Oh, I get it.”
I live in Ohio, have seen both of Pif’s movies, and I am here to tell you, I get it – and I love it.