Gil Rossellini, the independent producer, writer, and director who depicted his fight with a rare and devastating bacterial infection in the life-affirming “Kill Gil” series of documentaries, died Oct. 3 in Rome. He was 51. Rossellini had been struggling with the ravaging effects of staphylococcus bacteria for nearly four years.
In Nov. 2004, after producing pricey Malaysian epic “The Princess of Mount Ledang,” which screened in Venice, Rossellini suddenly fell ill while attending the Stockholm Film Festival.
He returned to the Lido in 2005 with “Kill Gil (Volume 1)” a widely praised video diary of his long hospitalization, many surgeries, and resulting paraplegic condition, which manages to be uplifting thanks to his self-deprecating humor and unstoppable vitality. The first “Kill Gil” installment also unspooled in Tribeca.
Born Bombay, Gil Rossellini was the son of Indian writer Sonali Das Gupta. He was adopted by neo-realist Italian master Roberto Rossellini when he married Gupta.
Rossellini Jr. spent most of his childhood in Rome where he became acquainted with many members of the international film community and also worked with his father on set and in the editing suite. He then moved to the U.S. to study physics and mathematics at Rice University and at the U. of Texas.
During the early 1980s Gil Rossellini worked in New York as a production assistant on Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” and on Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America,” before starting his own Rossellini & Associates production company based in New York, Rome, and New Delhi.
He produced and directed a dozen films and documentaries including, as producer, the comedy “Lontano da dove,” which unspooled at the 1983 Venice Film Festival, multi-media rock opera “The Polyhedron of Leonardo,” which also screened in Venice, six-part TV series “Enemy Mine” about social conflict in modern Europe, which he also directed, and “The Hole in the Wall,” a docu about slum children in India learning to use computers which aired on PBS.
“Kill Gil (Volume 2),” screened in Venice in 2006 and “Kill Gil (Volume 2 ½)” will unspool at the Rome Film Festival later this month.
Italian president Giorgio Napolitano on Friday paid tribute to Gil Rossellini in a statement praising his “Kill Gil” video diaries and “the courage and determination with which he faced the serious illness that led to his being paralyzed.”