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Vittorio Taviani, Award-Winning Italian Director, Dies at 88

Italian director Vittorio Taviani, of the multiple award-winning Taviani brothers, has died at 88.

His daughter Giovanna told media he died in Rome after a long illness.

Vittorio was the older of the prolific Taviani brothers who emerged in the 1970’s as the revered filmmaking duo whose works blended neo-realism with more modern storytelling in works such as “Padre Padrone,” which won the 1977 Cannes Palme d’Or, World War II drama “The Night of the Shooting Stars” (1982) and “Kaos” (1984) which is based on Pirandello.

Born in the Tuscan town of San Miniato, Vittorio and Paolo Taviani soon moved to nearby Pisa where as high-school students they became aspiring directors. “We walked into a movie theater called Cinema Italia, which no longer exists, and there was a film playing called ‘Paisà’ that we had never heard of,” they told Variety in unison in a 2016 interview. That experience “really blew our minds,” they said.  “We had experienced the war as kids, and very deeply. But what we were seeing on screen made that reality so much clearer for us. This movie was telling us things about ourselves that we did not know. So we said to ourselves: ‘If cinema has this strength, this power to reveal to ourselves our own truths, then we will make movies!’

Years later, when they went to Cannes with “Padre Padrone,” the thought that they had started making movies thanks to Rossellini and that he was awarding them the Palme d’Or was for them “like the closure of a splendid luminous circle.”

More recently the Taviani brothers won the Berlin Golden Bear, in 2012, with “Caesar Must Die,” which is about high-security inmates acting Shakespeare, followed by “Wondrous Boccaccio,” (2014) an adaptation of “The Decameron” and “Una Questione Privata” in 2017, based on a novella by Italian author Beppe Fenoglio.

Italian president Sergio Mattarella in a statement said the country is in mourning and called Vittorio Taviani “a beloved protagonist of Italian cinema and culture.”

“Yesterday Milos Forman, today Vittorio Taviani,” tweeted Venice Film Festival chief Alberto Barbara. “We owe them a great deal of our cinematic formation…and will remember them always with gratitude.”

The Tavianis received a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement from Venice in 1986.

Giovanna Taviani said her father’s body would be cremated and there will be no public funeral.

(pictured: Paolo Taviani, left, and Vittorio Taviani)

 

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