Southern Italian Film Commission Under Investigation for Alleged Embezzlement

The smallish regional commission that covers the area that includes Naples has a budget shortfall of nearly $160,000 over four years.

ROME – The Campania Film Commission, the body set up promoting cinema projects in the region that includes the city of Naples, is under investigation after a shortfall of €120,000 ($157,000) in the organization’s budget was revealed by leadership.

Though the Campania Film Commission is not among Italy’s most high profile regional commissions, it has had some high-profile successes in recent years, including participation in the making of Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone’s mob film that won Grand Prix honor in Cannes in 2008, and Benvenuti al Sud (Welcome to the South), a Luca Miniero comedy that enjoyed a successful domestic box office run two years ago. 

The region is also host to two small but successful film festivals on the islands of Ischia and Capri, off the Naples coast, and another inland, in the village of Giffoni Valle Piana. 

But the Italian media is reporting that those successes may have come despite the embezzlement scheme that stole the equivalent of half the amount the commission receives from local government each year, though the siphoning of the funds is reported to have taken place in smaller doses over the last four years. The commision also receives backing from the European Union and other sources.

Campania was quick to react. Regional Culture Minister Caterina Miraglia quickly called for a thorough investigation. Media reported that a special prosecutor, Francesco Greco, has already begun work collecting evidence.

One thing that appears clear, according to a report in Monday’s editions of the financial daily Il Sole/24 Ore is that the commission’s chief administrator Calerio Caprara and director general Maurizio Gemma, are not suspects in the alleged crimes, after they filed a complaint alerting police to the missing cash. The working theory is that it was a lower-level official: the Italian news service ANSA reported Monday that one mid-level official had already been detained in connection with the case.

Though this is the first reported case of legal issues at the film commission, Campania and Naples have history of reported corruption and illegal activity, in a large part because of the presence of the Camorra organized crime organization Garrone’s film focused on. In fact, in June, Garrone himself was accused of collaborating with the mob in order to get the film made. Earlier, one of the protagonists from the film was sentenced to 14 years behind bars for extortion.