Carlo Lizzani (Rome, April 3, 1922 – Rome, October 5, 2013) was an accomplished Italian film director, screenwriter, film historian, film critic, and producer. Born in Rome, his life spanned multiple decades of cinematic and historical evolution in Italy.
Participation in the Resistance and Political Inclinations Lizzani played an active role as a partisan in the Roman Resistance alongside figures such as Carla Capponi, Ezio Malatesta, and Filiberto Sbardella. He later joined the Italian Communist Party with his cousin, Cesare Gatti.
Professional Journey Apart from being a critic and essayist, Lizzani contributed significantly to the neorealist era of Italian cinema. He penned scripts for renowned directors like Aldo Vergano, Giuseppe De Santis, Roberto Rossellini, and Alberto Lattuada. His directorial debut was with the documentary Nel Mezzogiorno qualcosa è cambiato (1950) and later with the film Achtung! Banditi! (1951).
Among his notable directed films are: Cronache di poveri amanti (1954), Il processo di Verona (1963), Banditi a Milano (1968), Crazy Joe (1974), Mussolini ultimo atto (1974), Storie di vita e malavita (1975), Fontamara (1980), and many others. Lizzani also ventured into television, directing series like Nucleo Zero (1984), Un’isola (1986), and La trappola (1989). He headed the Venice International Film Festival from 1979 to 1982, restoring the awarding of prizes in 1980.
Literary Contributions and Academic Honors In 1998, Lizzani published Attraverso il Novecento, a collection of his varied writings, including anecdotes from the neorealist Italian cinema world. In 2007, he penned his autobiography, Il mio lungo viaggio nel secolo breve. He also taught directing at Act Multimedia, the Academy of Cinema and Television at Cinecittà. Lizzani received honorary degrees in Communication Sciences from the University of Turin in 2000 and another from LUMSA University in 2009.
Unrealized Projects and Personal Life Several of Lizzani’s projects remained incomplete, including La passione di Angela, a story announced in 2004 with actors Donatella Finocchiaro and Raoul Bova. He also had plans for a comedy titled La parola ai giurati and a TV series based on Ippolito Nievo’s Le confessioni d’un italiano. Since 1949, he was married to painter Edith Bieber, whom he met in Berlin during the filming of Roberto Rossellini’s Germania anno zero.
Demise and Legacy On October 5, 2013, Lizzani tragically ended his life by jumping from the balcony of his apartment in Rome while working on the film L’orecchio del potere. His body was later laid in state at the Protomoteca hall of the Senatorial Palace at the Campidoglio, followed by a civil funeral. He was laid to rest at the Verano cemetery in the family tomb. In 2014, his family established the Lizzani Award at the Venice Film Festival to honor Italian exhibitors who prominently featured quality cinema.
Featured image: Carlo Lizzani directs a scene from the film ‘Lo svitato’ with Dario Fo (1955), source