A leftist filmmaker, Gillo Pontecorvo worked as a foreign correspondent in Paris, as an assistant to Yves Allegret, and a documentarian before gaining attention with the Academy Award nominated, grim...
Helmed best-known film, "The Battle of Algiers", which depicted the 1954 Algerian uprising; earned a Best Foreign Language Academy Award nomination in 1967; two years later received Best Director and Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations
Directed first documentary, "Missione Timiriazev"
Replaced Guglielmo Biraghi as head of the Venice Film Festival
Directed "Burn!", starring Marlon Brando ; last feature for a decade
Made one-shot return to feature films with "Ogro/Operation Ogre"
Wrote and directed first fictional film, "La Grande Stada Azzura/The Wide Blue Road", featuring Yves Montand; film released theatrically in USA for first time in 2001
Garnered international attention for the concentration camp drama "Kapo"
In the 1930s, fled the anti-Semitism of his homeland and settled in France
Directed two short films
After WWII, returned to Italy
Born and raised in Pisa, Italy
Worked as a journalist
A leftist filmmaker, Gillo Pontecorvo worked as a foreign correspondent in Paris, as an assistant to Yves Allegret, and a documentarian before gaining attention with the Academy Award nominated, grim concentration camp melodrama "Kapo" (1960). <p>His most evocative and perhaps best-known film remains "The Battle of Algiers" (1966), a gripping account of the 1954 Algerian rebellion against French rule. A landmark political drama, "The Battle of Algiers" was shot in a grainy, neo-documentary style and featured non-professional actors, and won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival as well as receiving a Best Foreign-Language Oscar nomination. When it was widely released in the USA in 1969, Pontecorvo netted dual Academy Award nods for his direction and as co-author of its original screenplay. Over time, though, and through its championing by director Jonathan Demme, Pontecorvo's first fictional work, "The Wide Blue Road/La Grande Strada Azzurra" (1957) has undergone re-evaluation and is now considered a forerunner of the New Wave, especially in its social and political themes. That film received its belated US premiere in 2001.<p>Pontecorvo's only subsequent feature of note was "Burn!/Queimada!" (1969), another critique of colonialism set in 19th-century Antilles. Perhaps because of its upscale production values and star cast--which included Marlon Brando--the film lacked the edge of Pontecorvo's earlier work. He made a one-shot return to features a decade later with "Ogro/Operation Ogre" (1979) and continued to create shorts into the 1990s.
On his first fictional film, "The Wide Blue Road/La Grande Strada Azzura" (released for the first time in the USA in 2001), Pontecorvo was quoted by The New York Times (June 3, 2001): "I was so sad that it didn't turn out the way I wanted. I wanted to shoot it in black and white, and I felt Alida [Valli] was too exquisite to play the wife of a fisherman, and I felt it had too much melodrama. But [Roberto] Rossellini told me: 'Don't be stupid! This is only your first film. It's not that bad. There will be more.'"