Producer Domenico Procacci discusses Diaz Don’t Clean Up This Blood.
In 2001 the G8 summit in Genoa was home to a vicious attack by 300 Italian police on 90 innocent protesters staying in the Armando Diaz school. An attack that Amnesty International called '"the most serious suspension of democratic rights in a Western country after World War II". The victims were beaten indiscriminatingly and consistently by police at the school and then again in custody. In an attempt to justify the beatings of unarmed peaceful protesters, the police planted two Molotov cocktails and it has taken over ten years for anything that could come close to being called justice to be seen.
Daniele Vicari's Diaz documents the events leading up to and the attack itself using 10,000 court documents and eye witness and victim accounts. It is a multi-lingual film shot in several countries, including Italy, and with an international cast including Claudio Santamaria, Jennifer Ulrich and Elio Germano. It is a difficult watch as it doesn't shy away from showing some of the more harrowing aspects of both the beatings and the treatment by the victims afterwards in police custody. Both Vicari and Procacci have said it was the most difficult film they have ever made. It is an extremely powerful and moving film and if it doesn't politicise you then, well...we wash our hands of you. Again.
We had a chat with producer Domenico Procacci (Gomorrah, Reality) about the difficulties of getting a film like this made. Of course as both an Italian and simply on a human level, anybody would have been appalled at the atrocities faced by the victims, Domenico says his reasons for wanting to make the film were simple too, “After the first trial in 2008, all the officers were acquitted and we were sure that no one would go to prison for what happened in Genoa and that it would be forgotten, no one would ever know what happened. I spoke with Daniele Vicari and we said - that would be it - no one would ever really know what happened and so we decided we had to make the film. To keep the story alive”.
We asked what the response was like when they were trying to get the film financed. Domenico was quite clear “It was impossible to get financed. No-one wanted to touch it and so quite early on we had to came round to the idea that we would have to take the risk and to finance it ourselves, which was a big risk”. The risk has paid off as Diaz has won numerous awards and has been released worldwide, credit to Procacci and Vicari's voracious desire for the truth.
The production used Romania to rebuild the streets and the school but also filmed some key scenes in Genoa. Domenico told us about shooting in Genoa. Again the answer, as expected, was that it was extremely problematic and difficult. He said “Of course with any movie you make a big noise and commotion and people know you are there. We tried to limit the amount we shot in Genoa as much as possible, we only shot in a few days. There was a huge amount of press attention and also, of course, the Italian police also made things difficult for the production”.
After the ruling in 2008 Proccaci thought that was it for the Diaz story. What happened at the next appeal was a shock. Procacci says “In 2010 the appeal overturned the ruling which we never, never thought would happen and now we are waiting to see what happens in the next round”. Procacci wasn't alone in the shock of the ruling against the officers “This ruling is a tsunami, an earthquake," said Enrico Zucca the police prosecutor at the trial. Despite the importance of that verdict none of those officers went to jail, nor will any of those police awaiting the June 14th verdict as the statute of limitations has run out. The victims have been pushing for there to be a torture law in Italy, perhaps the only way something good could come out of all this is if this law were to be passed.
Mark Covell the British journalist who is featured in the film and was nearly killed by the police finally got a payout from the Italian government but to do so he had to drop all charges. At least thanks to Diaz his story is out there being told but it still a tragedy that justice will probably never fully be served and, as Procacci says, 'No-one has ever said sorry'.
Diaz is being shown in Belfast on 16th June to coincide with the Northern Ireland G8 summit.
Diaz: Don't clean up this blood is out now on DVD and Blu Ray
Interview with Daniele Vicari coming soon....