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Hot Docs 2019 Review: “Our Godfather” (2019) ★★★


As a child, and even now, I never stopped praising the Italian TV series “La Piovra” (1984-1989) starring a few of the best Italian actors of its generation, Michele Placido, Patricia Millardet, Remo Girone and Agnese Nano. That scene alone when Commissario Corrado Cattani walked through the long hall of the hospital promised to be his last one. Stretched out to almost three or four minutes of close-up, we as the audience knew right away there’s no way he can make it out, alive or not. And whether he did was not a big mystery but the fact that he was after the most ruthless Italian Mafiosi is enough to picture if it at all looked bad in the film. How about the real life, when the same happens in a way not even the best Italian cinema can deliver?

“Our Godfather”, directed by Mark Franchetti and Andrew Meier, is a sad reminder that power and greed can’t walk together. It follows Tomasso Buschetta, known as Don Masino, once infamous Mafioso who had to break the oath known as Omerta. It’s a code of silence and secrecy that does not allow members of the Mafia betraying their so-called, ‘brothers’. And if that person goes against them to cooperate with the authorities, that matter is no longer handled as business, but rather as personal, in which the hunt of the family members of a condemned “traitor” begins, which sadly also happens to Tomasso Buschetta.

“I was just a boy when I was sworn into the Mafia”, begins the man’s voice to narrate from behind the scene, who we begin to acknowledge as Tomasso Buschetta himself. Then he continues, “… They pricked my finger with a needle and told me to wipe the blood on an image of a saint. Then the image was burnt while I recited to the ritual oath. If I betray Cosa Nostra, let my flesh burn like this sacred image. When you’re initiated it is forever. Cosa Nostra comes before family, friends, and country. Once a Mafioso always a Mafioso,” the man finishes his introduction, preparing the viewer to the most emotional journey any documentary can offer.

Then, we learn that Tomasso Buschetta’s family went into hiding thirty-two years ago, and still keep changing their places in order to protect their true identity. All that, as you watch the film, is being explained through detailed archival footages and interviews with Buschetta’s widow, Cristina, and his two children. She explains what happened within that sensitive time frame when Buschetta comes to terms with his conscience to begin cooperating with the Italian police and FBI – all at the cost of the loss of his two sons who were brutally tortured and killed in a manner I don’t even want to begin describing. It was followed by the death of a brother, a brother-in-law, a son-in-law, and four nephews. Just to picture the amount of grief one person could go through, it becomes the turning point for a man to become the most notorious person from Mafia that will stand on trial as a witness.

It’s not fun to watch “Our Godfather”. In fact, I wish I never had to. With all the wars that happen in the world, with all the eerie killings a human commits, the way Buschetta’s sons were killed is beyond my understanding but, I must admit, it’s like glue, stuck to my head with no way to pull it out. The question is, as you watch this important piece of storytelling and the crucial part of history, why do we have to put ourselves into a position to dissolve an innocent (or not) men’s body in acid? Who is doing that, you may ask? But with the mind-blowing number of dead bodies you see throughout the documentary, there will be no surprises about it at all.

In the end, what does “Our Godfather” teaches us? To be good or just stay away from Mafia? The problem revealed in this film is much bigger than that. There’s no such family who deserves to be relocated from one location or safe house to another due to the fear of getting killed. Not to mention, getting half the family killed in the manner of execution. Indeed, the film sends a profound message to humanity, which had unfortunately become deaf long ago. And only after finding a cure mixed with human compassion, kindness, and spiced up with accountability and generosity, might we be able to succeed at a point in our fight against inhumane action. But for that to happen, we need someone who will invent a pharmacy that can begin working on the necessary ingredients. Until then, we will have no choice but to continue watching films like “Our Godfather” no matter how tormenting it can be.

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