It’s the story of those who sacrificed everything for free journalism

Interview with Claudio Santamaria, protagonist of the Channel 5 fiction dedicated to the story of the Sicilian newspaper that first told the Mafia.

The fiction with Claudio Santamaria, who tells the story of L’Ora, the Sicilian newspaper, which first deals with the Mafia without retreat, will arrive on Channel 5 on Wednesday 8 June. The character played by Santamaria, Antonio Nicastro, is inspired by the life of the journalist Vittorio Nisticò, director who changed the direction of the newspaper, cut it off from the Communist Party and published uncomfortable and hitherto hidden stories. He surrounded himself with young and determined journalists, ready to give the names and surnames of the Mafiosi who painted the streets of Palermo and Corleone with blood. In this interview with, Claudio Santamaria talks about the work on the character and the preparation for this series, which takes on the responsibility of bringing to light a story that is relatively well known to the layman.

Let’s start with the basics: as a non-Sicilian, what did you know about the history of this newspaper?

I know L’Ora di Palermo and I knew what that great experience meant for Sicily and for Italian journalism. I knew little about Vittorio Nisticò. Little by little I learned to understand and know him, but as always happens in those cases, I believe that the best thing is not to photocopy a character he is imitating, but to understand the divine fire that animated him, his To understand essence and to make it mine.

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What did you understand about Vittorio Nisticò?

That he was very determined, rigorous, passionate, someone who sacrificed so much to do this work.

They seem to have the characteristics of the hero and when the television drama is dedicated to characters with these characteristics, the risk of sanctioning is just around the corner. How did you avoid it?

In the hero’s definition, there is precisely the element of sacrifice, in which case the character offers his private life, relationships, to complete the mission of truth, democracy, and justice. I’m not afraid to say he was a hero in every way. In addition to the sacrifice, the heroes have another characteristic that sometimes seems nasty, as if it were something more important to pursue. We have worked in the direction to show these nuances, to build up an edgy but heartfelt character vis-à-vis those who work in the newspaper.

To become a newspaper editor in Sicily in the 1950s, what model inspired you?

To offensive journalism, for which you get the butt of the stills and go pick up the news. I presented the newspaper editor as closed and serious, and intended to teach his people the moral rigor that a great profession requires. A seriousness, a deontology that puts the truth first. I think it’s a journalism lesson that is being talked about today.

Journalism is currently experiencing a credibility crisis. Is that why the stories about this profession retain a great charm?

First, this series shows a kind of pure journalism that still leads the way today and the touchstone is how this work is done. Journalism is passionate precisely because it offers the heroic narrative margins I have been talking about. As Pippo Fava put it, “Journalism is one of the most important components of society.” Free information sets society free because it pushes institutions to do better, to improve the forces of law and order, it informs, it awakens public opinion. It is a very important profession and today we may underestimate it, in fact, weaken it.

The product’s pregnancy was long and the shipment coincided with the beginning of summer. Do you think it can punish the product?

We started shooting before the pandemic and we’ve been waiting a long time for the series. It’s coming now and I’m glad it’s coming out, regardless of location. I hope it goes well and that people watch it, that they show it to their children, I find it a very important series, because it certainly shows unknown facets of this profession.

The first scene of the series brings us back to the explosion of October 19, 1958, perhaps little known to public opinion. This story has been going on for a long time.

In general, the subject of crime is always under water compared to what we should be talking about, it is a debate that should always be kept alive, constantly, especially through schooling. Politics deals with it intermittently, while it should receive constant attention.

Moreover, this is a new field for you. In Italy, the question of crime is almost an inevitable step in the growth path of an actor. How did you experience it?

No, I’ve never worked on such a topic before. When one makes such a series, one is not only mentioned as an actor, but also as a citizen. For me, this project was a kind of reputation. Reading the script shocked me a lot, my justice, my anger deeply touched me.

Also, in connection with this need to talk more about it, do you think that television can go deeper than cinema on topics like these?

They are different media, television can reach more people and tell stories more broadly. The medium changes, but the fact that such a story is told through a cinematic aesthetic, I think, may allow the audience to reach it in a different way. It must be said that cinema is currently going through a major crisis, it is clear that the television model is prevailing.

Do you think the inertia of cinema is definitely going down, or do you see hopes for recovery?

More than anything, I strongly hope I believe autumn will be crucial. At the moment there is great uncertainty, many movies are produced and maybe there are few distributions, theaters close, where are these movies designed for the big screen then put? My deep pain is to see historic halls close, it’s heartbreaking.

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