Venice unveils Pontecorvo archive

Film festival pays tribute to late director

The late Gillo Pontecorvo was fondly remembered at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday where Italo Culture Czar Francesco Rutelli announced the establishment of a national archive dedicated to the “The Battle of Algiers” helmer and former Lido topper.

“He was a great innovator; a free creative spirit who guided this great institution and went on to work in a thousand different directions,” said Rutelli at a packed presser on the Lido.

The Gillo Pontecorvo Archives will gather a wealth of materials, including Pontecorvo’s documentaries — many unseen — shorts, photographs, letters, and taped interviews. Italy’s Istituto Luce is likely to be the repositary of the materials.

“It will basically be a way to transmit his vitality and joie de vivre,” said Picci Pontecorvo, his wife for 45 years.

The politically passionate helmer, who died in October, won the 1966 Golden Lion for “Algiers.” He headed the Venice fest between 1992 and 1997, revitalizing it by bringing back some glitz thanks to his many friends in Hollywood.

Current Venice topper Marco Mueller dedicated this edition of the fest to Pontecorvo on opening day.

Meanwhile, as the Toronto Film Festival kicks off, the Lido was winding down Thursday with Peter Greenaway’s Rembrandt biopic “Nightwatching” and Italo helmer Vincenzo Marra’s corruption drama “L’ora di punta,” unspooling in competition, both without making much of a splash.

Current front-runner for the Lion is French helmer Abdellatif Kechiche’s “The Secret of the Grain,” a drama about an Arab immigrant contending with work and family problems in a Gallic port town. Fest ends Saturday.

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