Forget everything you think you know about the Mafia from having watched ‘The Godfather’. A new film festival, screening in London in early April, hopes to recast the misunderstood role played by women in Italian Mafias.

Organised by CinemaItalia and Italian political specialists from the University of Bath’s Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, ‘Donne di Mafia’ (Women of the Mafia), will showcase two documentary films that seek to unpack the complex relationships between gender and organised crime.

The event is the brainchild of organised crime specialist at Bath, Dr Felia Allum whose work explores the dynamics of different Mafias, most notably the Camorra in Naples. Felia is the author of the award-winning book ‘The Invisible Camorra’ and is currently undertaking a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship focused on women, crime and culture.

The event, which takes place on Sunday 3 April, will include a screening of ‘Shooting the Mafia’, the acclaimed film by Kim Longinotto, and a preview of ‘A Chiara’, from Jonas Carpignano. This will include a discussion with Director Kim Longinotto (Shooting the Mafia) in conversation with documentary journalist and academic, Carol Nahra, and a post-screening talk about ‘A Chiara’ with Guardian journalist, Clare Longrigg.

Speaking in advance, Dr Allum of the University of Bath explained: “These films question the complex relationships between women and Italian mafias. Too often women are represented in film as marginal or irrelevant actors in organised crime groups – take ‘The Godfather’ as a prime example.

‘My Leverhulme-funded research seeks to challenge the stereotypes which persist to try to understand the more nuanced complexity that surrounds the existence of women involved in criminal groups.

“Women are constantly seen as passive victims in different criminal landscapes and in this way, we avoid understanding that women are not passive all the time, that they do have agency and that, of course, they can be just as violent and as good as the men. We often lack the language or the courage to confer upon women the capacity to have agency in criminal groups and by doing this, we fail to identify women in more sophisticated criminal networks or help vulnerable women trying to get by and survive.

“Film and documentary are powerful mediums to challenge stereotypes, which is why hosting this mini film festival, and screening these films which tackle such complex issues, is so important to me.”

  • ‘Donne di Mafia 2022’ takes place at The Garden Cinema, WC2B 5PQ on Sunday 3 April. The event is sponsored by Jacobacci Law and Leverhulme Trust.