Risi being lionized at Venice

Helmer's films were often overlooked by crix

ROME — One of the undisputed masters of the commedia all’italiana and the director behind such classics as “Il Sorpasso” (The Easy Life) and the original “Scent of a Woman,” Dino Risi will receive the Golden Lion for career achievement at the 59th Venice Intl. Film Festival.

“It’s been said that it took a foreign festival director to remember one of the greats of Italian cinema,” says Venice chief Moritz de Hadeln.

“There’s a social disenchantment and moral tension beneath the cynical, hedonistic surface of his comedies,” continues the fest topper. “These films were always prized by the public but often overlooked by critics, who in those days thought that commitment meant the censure of laughter.”

The 85-year-old director’s long string of hits includes “Poor But Beautiful,” “A Difficult Life,” “I Mostri,” “The Widower,” “Love and Larceny” and “The Priest’s Wife,” starring such Italian screen giants as Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren and Ugo Tognazzi.

To mark the career award, Italy’s National Film School will present a restored print of “Il Sorpasso” and will publish the book “Dino Risi: Maestro of Equilibrium and Lightness,” with interviews with Sordi, Ettore Scola and Mario Monicelli, among others.