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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Seminara

Gualtiero Jacopetti and Mondo Cane

Gualtiero Jacopetti (4 September 1919 – 17 August 2011), co-creator, with his directing partner Franco Prosperi, created what we now call the Shock-u-mentary. Their film Mondo Cane - literally translates as Dog World, but I guess they meant it to read A Dogs Life. My Italian ain't great, Capisce?

Mondo Cane is not for the faint-hearted. It starts with some man on dog brutality. It continues to show one horror after another. Mondo Cane was very controversial in its day. In truth, it still is. So, of course, it created its own genre consisting of sequels and copycats.

Jacopetti claimed he intended to create films that "would play on the big screen whose subject was reality." Franco Prosperi went on to expand the claim by stating that, "The public was not ready for this kind of truth." Both directors denied staging anything for their films, except for Mondo Cane 2 - The first of sequels, which they acknowledge does contain some staged or recreated footage.

They survived well into old age, which is surprising from watching their, Man on the street style footage of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, which is the focus of their film, Goodbye Africa. There were investigations into their practices and if they were involved in instigating these horrible situations for the camera. This photo is from a courtroom in Rome. Jacopeti was reviled but ultimately acquitted. He lived into his 90s and laughed all the way to the bank.

George Seminara

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