Italian Neighborhood Denies Access to Producers of Mafia-Focused 'Gomorrah' TV Project

The follow-up to Matteo Garrone's 2008 Cannes jury prize winner was to be set in the violent Naples suburb of Scampia.

ROME -- The top political official of a suburb of the Italian city of Naples has denied a request to allow cameras into the area as part of the filming of a television series about the local mob based on fears it would damage the reputation of the neighborhood already known for revenge killings, Mafia control and drug wars.

Angelo Pisani, the top administrator in the suburb of Scampia, said that Matteo Garrone’s 2008 Cannes jury prize-winning organized crime drama Gomorrah already did enough to harm the image of the area. The television series, also to be called Gomorrah, is planned as a follow up to Garrone’s film, which is a play on words combining the name of the Camorra crime organization in Naples and the Biblical city of Gomorrah.

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“I think it is time to say enough of the exploitation of Naples and of Scampia in particular,” Pisani said in an interview with the Corriere del Mezzogiorno, the Naples-based edition of country's largest newspaper. “Negative aspects exist, it cannot be denied. But the constant exaggeration solves nothing except to confirm the stigma.”

Luigi de Magistris, Naples’ mayor, agreed with Pisani's decision, though he noted that the two did not confer on the decision: “We have tired of seeing Scampia reduced to a place conquered by the warring Camorra clans,” he said.

For his part, Roberto Saviano, the Naples-born writer of the bloody and chilling mob expose that inspired both the film and the television series said Pisani’s decision was an act of censorship designed to cover up the inability of political leaders to solve the city’s organized crime problems.

“When nothing changes as a result of incompetent management, it is better [from the perspective of political leaders] that the press, the pens of writers, and the television cameras of directors remain silent,” Saviano said in a column he wrote for the Rome-based daily newspaper La Repubblica.

Saviano is a special advisor to the 12-part television series. There was no immediate word on whether the series’ producers planned to appeal Pisani’s decision or to film the series elsewhere.