Grazia Volpi, Producer of the Taviani Brothers, Dies at 79

Italian producer Grazia Volpi, best known for bringing many works by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani to the big and small screens, including their Berlin Golden Bear winner “Caesar Must Die,” has died.

Volpi was 79, according to Italian press reports. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Born in the Tuscan town of Pontedera, Volpi during the early 1960s started working as a production assistant in Rome, subsequently becoming a casting agent and line producer, and then setting up her own production company during the mid 1970s. She became a rare case of a woman producer in Italy’s male-dominated industry.

Volpi started working with the Taviani brothers in 1969 as a casting agent on the drama “Under The Sign of Scorpio,” their fourth work and the first feature they shot in color. The close rapport she forged with Italy’s prominent directorial duo is testified by a cameo she played as a young mother with child in their 1982 fantasy war drama “The Night of the Shooting Stars” which won the Jury Special Prize at Cannes. She was also married for a long period of time to the Taviani’s regular editor Roberto Perpignani.

Starting in 1993 Volpi became the Taviani’s regular producer with Tuscany-set period piece “Wild Flower” (“Fiorile”), segued by, among other titles, Goethe adaptation “Elective Affinities” (1996); “You Laugh” (“Tu Ridi”) (1998) based on a Pirandello short story; the TV movie “Resurrection” (2001) based on the Leo Tolstoy novel of the same title; the mini-series “Luisa Sanfelice” (2004) starring Laetitia Casta in the title role; and “The Lark Farm,” (2007) which is the first feature to deal with the Armenian genocide of 1915, and which premiered at Berlin.

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Caesar Must Die,” a black and white drama about prison inmates putting on a Shakespeare production, won the Berlin Golden Bear in 2012.

Among other accolades Volpi in 2012 was honored with a David di Donatello Award which is Italy’s highest film award, for best producer for “Caesar Must Die.”

Volpi, who was a very active member of Italy’s association of independent filmmakers ANAC, also produced works by other Italian directors besides the Taviani’s. Most notably she also shepherded Francesco Maselli’s 1975 political drama “Il Sospetto,” starring Gian Maria Volonte; terrorism-themed thriller “State Secret” by Giuseppe Ferrara (1995); and Fascist-era genre film “The Isle of The Fallen Angel” (2012) by Carlo Lucarelli which premiered at the Rome Film Festival.


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