Gillo Pontecorvo

Gillo Pontecorvo was an Italian filmmaker. He is best known for his 1966 masterpiece, The Battle of Algiers, widely viewed as one of the finest films of its genre: realistic though fictionalized documentary. Its portrayal of the Algerian resistance during the Algerian War uses the neorealist style pioneered by fellow Italian film directors de Santis and Rossellini, employing newsreel-style footage and non-professional actors, and focusing primarily on a disenfranchised population that seldom receives attention from the general media. Though very much Italian neorealist in style, Pontecorvo co-produced with an Algerian film company.

The Battle of Algiers achieved great success and influence. It was widely screened in the United States, where Pontecorvo received a number of awards. He was also nominated for two Academy Awards.

Pontecorvo’s next major work, Queimada! (Burn!, 1969), is also anti-colonial, this time set in the Antilles. This film (starring Marlon Brando) depicts an attempted revolution of the oppressed. Pontecorvo continued his series of highly political films with Ogro (1979), which addresses the occurrence of terrorism at the end of Francisco Franco’s dwindling regime in Spain.

In 2006, he died from congestive heart failure in Rome at age 86.

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