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New Italian film tracks the life of one of the country's most famous criminals

posted 6 Sept 2010, 15:17 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 6 Sept 2010, 15:23 by Sam Mbale ]

"Vallanzasca", screening at the Venice Film Festival, tells the story famed Milan mobster Renato Vallanzasca who is currently serving four consecutive life sentences in prison.

New Italian film "Vallanzasca" follows the life of one of the country's most famous gangsters, Renato Vallanzasca, a key figure in Milan's underworld in the 1970s.

Vallanzasca, whose criminal career begun at a young age, headed a gang made up of his childhood friends, drug addicts and juvenile delinquents who progressed from petty crime to murders, bringing him fame and riches.

Vallanzasca, who spent years as a fugitive after breaking out of prison is still serving four consecutive life sentences for a number of murders and robberies he committed.

Director Michele Placido acknowledged the challenges in portraying the controversial figure, however adding he was not interested in judging the rights or wrongs of what had happened.

"Vallanzasca did commit crimes, he was a criminal, he is paying for it, possibly one of the few, he is still in prison. We know very well there are people in the parliament who have done even worse than Vallanzasca and that's a fact, it's a known fact," he said.

The film has caused a stir in Italy and Placido acknowledged that he had hesitated taking on the project.

"As I've said, I had some doubts about the film in the beginning, being a real Italian, I have been, first, educated by priests and then I was a policeman. As you can imagine I, a real Italian in a sense with a little bit of irony as well, with a Catholic education and very conservative, I asked myself if I can I tell this story of the dark world of a criminal, call him Vallanzasca or what ever, that was what was of interest to me, as an artist," he said.

The movie, which is screening out of competition at the Venice Film Festival, features an international cast including Kim Rossi Stuart, Filippo Timi, Moritz Bleibtreu and Paz Vega.

Bleibtreu, greeted by screaming fans as he stepped on the red carpet, said he was excited to be presenting the movie in Venice and hoped German fans would get a chance to see it soon, too.

"It's a film about Renato Vallanzasca who was one of the most infamous gangsters in Italy in the 70s and I'm playing one of his gang members, one of his entourage. Hopefully the film will be out in Germany by the end of the year but I'm not sure," he said.

The Venice Film Festival runs until September 11.