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 • Cimitero Comunale Monumentale Campo Verano
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 • Lazio
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Gillo Pontecorvo
Birth: Nov. 19, 1919
Pisa
Provincia di Pisa
Toscana, Italy
Death: Oct. 12, 2006
Rome
Provincia di Roma
Lazio, Italy

Motion Picture Director. His fame rests on the classic "The Battle of Algiers" (1966), a powerful, objective chronicle of the Algerian revolt against French rule in the 1950s. It centers on the urban guerrilla warfare between France's colonial forces and the militant National Liberation Front, and the civilians who are victimized by the cycle of escalating terrorist acts and reprisals. Pontecorvo shot the film in a semi-documentary fashion using non-professional actors, and the tone is remarkably compassionate to all sides; the only "villain" of the piece is colonialism itself. "The Battle of Algiers" won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and received three Academy Award nominations (for Best Foreign Film, Director, and Screenplay). Gilberto Pontecorvo was born in Pisa, Italy, the son of a wealthy Jewish manufacturer. He was introduced to left-wing politics by his older brother, Bruno Pontecorvo, a renowned nuclear physicist who later defected to the Soviet Union. After a period as a journalist in Paris, he joined the Communist Party in 1941 and clandestinely returned to Italy, where he organized anti-fascist resistance groups and served in Milan as a commander of the underground Garibaldi Brigade. In the postwar years Pontecorvo grew disillusioned with communism and he quit the party in protest over the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, though leftist political and social concerns would always be pervasive in his work. These were first expressed in a series of documentaries he made in the early 1950s and in his debut feature, "The Wide Blue Road" (1957), about the plight of Sardinian fishermen. He gained international attention with the World War II drama "Kapo" (1959), a stark tale of a young Jewish woman, imprisoned in a concentration camp, who denies her background and collaborates with the Nazis to survive. It was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar. Following the controversial success of "The Battle of Algiers", Pontecorvo received Hollywood backing for his next film, "Queimada!" ("Burn!", 1969), which starred Marlon Brando as a fictionalized version of 19th Century soldier of fortune William Walker, stirring up a slave revolt in the West Indies. Again the subject was the evils of colonialism, but studio interference and clashes between star and director rendered this near-epic a muddled (if visually arresting) disappointment. A decade would pass before Pontecorvo directed "Ogro" ("The Tunnel", 1979), concerning terrorist activity in post-Franco Spain; the film was shelved after limited distribution. He then returned to documentaries and was director of the Venice Film Festival from 1992 to 1994. Pontecorvo was a meticulous artist who spent years planning a single film, and his unwillingness to compromise the political aspects of his material led producers to consider him a poor commercial risk. Because of this he made only five features during his long career. But "The Battle of Algiers" is still relevant and influential. It has been used as a sort of primer by both militant groups and the governments trying to crush them, and in 2003 it was screened at the Pentagon for insights it could offer on the Iraq situation. Pontecorvo found this puzzling. In a 2004 interview he said, "The most my film could do is teach how to make cinema, not war". He died in Rome. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
 
Burial:
Cimitero Comunale Monumentale Campo Verano
Rome
Provincia di Roma
Lazio, Italy
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: C.S.
Record added: Oct 13, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 16158778
Gillo Pontecorvo
Added by: katzizkidz
 
Gillo Pontecorvo
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