Italian helmer and screenwriter Sergio Citti, a close collaborator of controversial filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, and the director of several biting social satires of his own, died of a heart attack on Oct. 11 in Ostia, near Rome. He was 72.
Citti’s proletarian Roman background is considered instrumental to the naturalistic dialogue and gritty tone of large part of Pasolini’s filmography, including the Rome-set works “Mamma Roma,” “Accattone,” and “Uccellacci e Uccellini,” which was one of many Pasolini pics that Citti served as assistant director on. Theirs was a long working relationship, and also a mutually artistically influential friendship.
Among the twelve feature films Citti helmed are the 1977 “Casotto” (Beach House), an ensemble beach farce in which a 15-year-old Jodie Foster plays a pregnant teen, the 1981 “Minestrone,” an off-beat comedy starring Roberto Benigni as a clever bum, and “I Magi Randagi” (We Free Kings), which was based on “PornoTeoKolossal,” Pasolini’s last project before his still mysterious 1975 murder.
Citti earlier this year led a bid to reopen an investigation into how Pasolini was beaten to death on a beach 30 years ago, suggesting in interviews that Italian authorities had secretly arranged to have him killed because they thought his work was too subversive.
Eerily, on the same day that Citti died, the reopened Pasolini case was shelved by a Rome court.
“I am very sad about Citti’s death,” said Jodie Foster, in Italy to promote the film “Flightplan.” “I remember him as a sunny person who smiled, gesticulated, and talked a lot, shouting directions at me, even as the camera was already rolling.”
He is survived by a sister and a brother.