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Italian Writer-Director Ettore Scola Dies at 84

Ettore Scola, one of the last of a generation of great Italian writers and directors, who was best known for “Il Sorpasso” (1962), “We All Loved Each Other So Much” (1974), “A Special Day” (1977), “The Family” (1987) and “The Dinner” (1998), died late Tuesday at a Rome hospital. He was 84 and had fallen ill on Sunday.

Scola was perhaps best known for “We All Loved Each Other So Much,” a 1974 portrait of postwar Italy that starred Nino Manfredi, Vittorio Gassman and Stefania Sandrelli. He directed and co-scripted with Maccari the 1977 Sophia Loren-Marcello Mastroianni film “A Special Day,” which picked up Oscar nominations for best foreign film and best actor for Mastroianni. He and Loren played neighbors who meet in 1938 during Hitler’s visit to Italy.

Scola won best director at Cannes for 1976’s “Ugly, Dirty and Bad” and shared the festival’s best screenplay award for “La terrazza” (1980). Another film much applauded on the festival circuit was the director’s 1983 film “Le bal.”

Scola started as a screenwriter, co-scripting 1962’sa “Il Sorpasso” with director Dino Risi and Ruggero Maccari. Starring Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant, the film was a road movie that is a classic of the genre.

Scola directed and co-scripted 1987’s “The Family,” starring Gassman, Stefania Sandrelli and Fanny Ardant; the Washington Post called the film “a thoughtful Italian ‘Upstairs, Downstairs.’ “

He directed and co-scripted 1998’s “The Dinner,” starring Ardant, Gassman and Giancarlo Giannini; Variety said of the film, “A grotesque grab bag of trattoria diners, repping a cross-section of Italian society, eats its way through Ettore Scola’s ‘The Dinner,’ a relaxing, well-oiled comedy with little to digest.”

Scola’s last picture was a moving tribute to his friend Federico Fellini titled “How Strange to Be Named Federico: Scola Narrates Fellini” which screened at the Venice Film Festival in 2013. Praising this unique mix of clips and recreations of encounters between two postwar Italian greats Variety called it “a magical trip through history and memory.”

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in a tweet that Scola’s death “leaves an enormous hole in Italian culture.”

Scola is survived by his wife Gigliola and daughters Silvia, who is a screenwriter, and Paola, who is a writer and assistant director.

 

 

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