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Martin Scorsese supporting Italian crime drama

06 January 2009

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Martin Scorsese will lend his name to IFC Films' U.S. release of the Italian crime drama "Gomorra."

Matteo Garrone 's study of the Naples Mafia, the Grand Prix winner at last year's Cannes Film Festival , will carry the presentation credit "Martin Scorsese Presents" when it arrives in New York and Los Angeles theaters February 13.

In a separate development, Italian actor Giovanni Venosa, one of the movie's stars, has been arrested on suspicion of taking part in real-life mob activities. Venosa, who plays a clan boss in the film, has been taken into police custody accused of extortion after allegedly trying to collect a "pizzo" -- Mafia tax -- from businesses in the Caserte region near Naples, the Italian media reported Monday. He has previously been convicted for Mafia links and was sentenced to community service in November for drug trafficking .

Venosa is the third actor from the film to be arrested for Mafia activity; Salvatore Fabbricino and Bernardino Terracciano, who also portrayed gang members, have also been linked to the Naples-based Mafia known as the Camorra .

"Gomorra" offers an inside look at the Camorra. Based on the book of the same name by Roberto Saviano , it is Italy's official submission in the Academy Awards ' foreign-language film category.

"Matteo Garrone's 'Gomorra' is a tough, forceful look at the Neapolitan underworld," Scorsese said. "I admire the bluntness of this picture and the devotion of Garrone and his actors in their pursuit of a terrible truth. 'Gomorra' is despairing, but it's also enlightening and, because of its frankness, strangely heartening."

Said Garrone: "I have been waiting for some time for the chance to thank Martin Scorsese publicly for the courage and generosity he has shown in laying his support on the line for 'Gomorra.' I can't forget how deeply touched I was seeing him arrive for the presentation of the film; of all directors, he is one of the most important in my development as a filmmaker. I am therefore extremely proud that the film has found such a prestigious adoptive father, and I will certainly cherish this memory for all time."

The limited February 13 theatrical release will be followed by a nationwide video-on-demand release February 19 and a subsequent theatrical rollout in all major markets across the country.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter;_ylt=Aq_s3RvhrVQK21o2iOegiQ9fVXcA