Vittorio Taviani, Palme d'Or and Golden Bear Winning Director, Dies at 88

Andreas Teich
Vittorio Taviani

The celebrated writer-director worked together with brother Paolo throughout his career.

Award-winning Tuscan filmmaker Vittorio Taviani has died after battling a long illness, according to Italian media reports. He was 88.

Vittorio worked alongside his brother Paolo in a unique partnership throughout his career. Known collectively as the Taviani Brothers, they won Europe's top cinema prizes, including the Palme d'Or in 1977 for Padre Padrone, the true story of Gavino Ledda, the son of a Sardinian shepherd who escaped a violent childhood by educating himself. 

In 1982, their film The Night of the Shooting Stars also received the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. The brothers were honored with a career Golden Lion in Venice in 1986.

In 2012, the brothers won the Golden Bear in Berlin for Caesar Must Die, a drama set in the infamous Rebibbia Prison outside of Rome where inmates rehearse a performance of Julius Caesar

They remained prolific throughout their careers since their first feature in 1962, rarely letting a few years go by without putting out a new film. Most recently, they released Rainbow: A Private Affair in 2017 and Wondrous Boccaccio in 2015.

Just one year in age apart, the brothers' collaboration was unique, with the duo taking turns in directing scenes. They saw themselves as directors working together in the same manner as the Lumiere brothers or the Coen brothers. 

"Sometimes people can't follow our conversations when we are exchanging ideas because we each just pronounce a few syllables or a fragment of an idea and then the other understands immediately," Paolo Taviani previously told The Hollywood Reporter of their process. "I remember once that [Italian actor Marcello] Mastroianni was asked what it was like to work with two co-directors, referring to Vittorio and me. And he said he didn't know what the question meant, that we were one director in two bodies."

In a statement to THR, Martin Scorcese praised the Taviani brothers work. “Vittorio Taviani was a wonderful human being, a great director, and one of the rare modern Italian filmmakers to build from the precious source of Neorealism. The pictures that Vittorio made with his brother Paolo felt like direct outgrowths of that precious moment: handmade, rooted in common life and experience, alive to natural beauties and wonders. With his passing, we’ve lost one of the cinema’s finest artists.”

Vittorio Taviani is survived by his two daughters, Francesca and Giovanna. He will be cremated in a private ceremony.