Kill me if you can
Fremantle Italia & The Apartment
with Rai Cinema
Alex Infascelli, Vincenzo Scuccimarra
On 31 October 1969, TV programmes across America were interrupted by a news flash: a man armed to the teeth has taken control of a TWA jet from Los Angeles to San Francisco, new final destination: Rome. Thus begins the longest hijacking in aviation history. While America is glued in front of the TV sets to follow with bated breath the odyssey of TWA flight 85, FBI agents identify the boy. His name is Raffaele Minichiello, 19, who emigrated to the USA from Irpinia in Southern Italy after the 1962 earthquake, a Marine decorated for bravery in battle. In the meantime, Italy too has begun to follow their compatriot’s joust through the skies. When he reaches Rome, Minichiello tries to escape in a police car but is caught and arrested… Kill Me If You Can is the incredible story of Raffaele Minichiello, a life scanned by earthquakes, bombings, wars, personal tragedies and all sorts of troubles, but always marked by an invincible will to live, or rather, to survive, despite a fate that seems to be raging against him.
In my two previous documentaries, I dealt with the (complex) simplicity of two men like Emilio D'Alessandro and Francesco Totti. For the story of Raffaele Minichiello – Mini for his friends – I had to readjust my narrative model, because here I was faced with an enigma. Raffaele, in his formally simple figure, is not only unfathomable but also an unconscious bearer of truths that even he does not seem to possess. For the first time I found myself without a written ending, a predetermined port of call or, more befittingly in this case, a safe landing ground. Instead, I chose to document our meeting, creating around it a tableau of resonance, not to spice things up – I think the interview alone would have been enough – but to try to understand, to sit down and catch my breath. The astonishing archive material I found in years of research, stresses how even before me others had become interested in his story and found observing Raffaele in his world important, such is his estrangement from it. In fact, whether stuck in a 1960s black and white 16mm film still, or a Rai video from the 1980s, Raffaele always seems detached from the context and plunged in his own world, his own time, his own dimension. This continuous zooming in on and out from the character resulted in the most earnest of my works, not only in terms of approach or empathy with the protagonist, but also from a narrative point of view. Some discoveries or twists in the tale came to me while I was already editing, and so I let them fall into place wherever I found myself chronologically.