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The Traitor – Marco Bellocchio

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #32. The Traitor – Marco Bellocchio

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #32. The Traitor – Marco Bellocchio

The Traitor

Italian auteur Marco Bellocchio, whose radical early works were a seminal part of 1960s and 1970s Italian cinema, embarks on his latest feature The Traitor, a biopic of Cosa Nostra member Tommaso Buscetta, the first high ranking official of the mafia organization to break their code of silence. Pierfrancesco Favino stars as Buscetta, joined by Brazilian actress Maria Fernando Candido, Luigi Lo Cascio, Fabrizio Ferracane and Fausto Russo Alesi. Oscar winning composer Nicola Piovani of 1998’s Life is Beautiful is writing the score and Vladan Radovic will serve as DP. The feature is a four-country co-pro financed through Italy’s IBC Movie, Kavac Film and RAI Cinema, while France’s Ad Vitam, Arte France Cinema and Canal Plus are also joined by Brazil’s Gullane and Germany’s Match Factory (with a host of producers in tow from each company, including Beppe Caschetto, Viola Fugen, Simone Gattoni, Caio Gullane, Fabiano Gullane, Alexandra Henochsberg, and Michael Weber). Bellocchio, who was a colleague and contemporary of Pasolini, began on a high note with his 1965 debut, Fists in the Pocket, which premiered at Venice. In the decades since, he would compete a total of five times for the Golden Lion (China is Near, 1967; The Eyes, the Mouth, 1982; Good Morning, Night, 2003; Dormant Beauty, 2012; Blood of My Blood, 2015), winning the Special Jury Prize in 1967, a Career Golden Lion in 2011 and the FIPRESCI prize in 2015. In Berlin, Bellocchio competed twice, with the 1969 omnibus Love and Anger and in 1991 with The Conviction, which won a Silver Bear Special Jury Prize. Bellocchio has competed six times for the Palme d’Or (A Leap in the Dark, 1980; Henry IV, 1984; The Prince of Homburg, 1997; The Nanny, 1999; My Mother’s Smile, 2002; Vincere, 2009) taking home a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury in 2002. 2006’s The Wedding Director played in Un Certain Regard, while 2016’s Sweet Dreams opened the Directors’ Fortnight.

Gist: Bellocchio, along with co-writers Valia Santella, Ludovico Rampoldi and Francesco Piccolo revisits another troubled chapter of Italian history with this biopic of Tommaso Buscetta, whose testimony about heroin smuggling during the 1980s “pizza connection” with the Cosa Nostra allowed him to obtain US citizenship and access to the witness protection program.

Release Date/Prediction: Bellocchio announced plans for The Traitor not long after the 2016 premiere of Sweet Dreams. Filming began in September of 2018 with production scheduled to continue until the end of December. Due to the lengthiness of pre-production, we’re assuming Bellocchio might not be ready for Cannes. If he appears on the Croisette, it would mark his seventh time in competition, but we expect The Traitor to be more likely to compete in Venice 2019, where Bellocchio would mark his sixth attempt for the Golden Lion.


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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