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The Venice International Film Festival and its Critics’ Week sidebar will this year jointly honor veteran Italian filmmaker Francesco Maselli, aka Citto Maselli, with a tribute to his life and works.
Maselli, one of the most important and influential of Italy’s post-WWII generation of filmmakers, has intimate ties to Venice. The festival is where his debut feature, Abandoned, premiered in 1955. Maselli won Venice’s Grand Jury Prize for A Tale of Love in 1986. Arguably his best-known film, the romantic drama also won star Valeria Golino the Volpi Cup for best actress, helping launch Golino’s international career and leading to roles in Hollywood features, including Rain Man (1988) and the Hot Shots! comedy franchise.
The director’s long career acted as a bridge between the giants of early Italian cinema — Maselli worked as an assistant director for Michelangelo Antonioni, Luigi Chiarini, and Luchino Visconti — and the current crop of Italian filmmakers. His first films — Abandoned (1959), The Doll Who Took the Town and The Silver Spoon Set (both 1960) — were neorealist and critical portraits of Italian society at the time.
His work in the 1970s become more overtly political, with films like the semi-autobiographical Open Letter to the Evening News (1970), the story of a group of left-wing intellectuals who found an international brigade of fighters for Vietnam, or The Suspect (1975), the story of a worker and member of the Italian Communist Party who is charged by the party’s Central Committee with finding and exposing a secret police spy within their ranks.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Maselli shifted to more intimate films, mainly portraits of women, including A Tale of Love (1985), The Secret (1990) and Dawn (1991).
Maselli will be honored at a ceremony in Venice on Sept. 6. Venice will also have a special screening of a restored copy of A Tale of Love.
The 78th Venice International Film Festival runs Sept. 1-11.
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