Lina Wertmuller


Biography of Lina Wertmuller

Lina Wertmüller (born 14 August 1926) is an Italian film writer and director of aristocratic Swiss descent. In 1976, she became the first woman ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Directing with the film Seven Beauties.

With the full name Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Español von Braueich, Wertmüller was born in Rome to a devoutly Roman Catholic Swiss family. She was rebellious as a child and was expelled from more than a dozen Catholic schools. Although her father wanted her to become a lawyer she enrolled in theatre school.

After graduating from school, her first job was touring Europe in a puppet show. For the next ten years she worked as an actress, director and playwright in legitimate theatre. During this period she met Giancarlo Giannini, who would later star in many of her films. Through her acquaintance with Marcello Mastroianni, she met Federico Fellini and in 1962 Fellini offered her the position of assistant director on 8½. The following year, Wertmüller made her directorial debut with The Lizards (I Basilischi), a film whose subject matter (the lives of impoverished people in southern Italy) would become a recurring motif in her later work.

Several other moderately successful films followed, but it was not until 1972 that Wertmüller achieved lasting international acclaim with a series of four movies starring Giancarlo Giannini. The last, and best-received of these, was 1975's Seven Beauties (Pasqualino Sette Bellezze), which earned 4 Academy Award nominations and was an international hit. Wertmüller was the first woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, and Kathryn Bigelow are the only other female directors to have been nominated.

Her 1978 film A Night Full of Rain was entered into the 28th Berlin International Film Festival. Eight years later, her film Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime) was entered into the 36th Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1985, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.

She is known for her whimsically prolix movie titles, for instance, the full title of Swept Away is "Swept away by an unusual destiny in the blue sea of August". These titles were invariably shortened for international release. She is entered in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest film title: Un fatto di sangue nel comune di Siculiana fra due uomini per causa di una vedova. Si sospettano moventi politici. Amore-Morte-Shimmy. Lugano belle. Tarantelle. Tarallucci e vino (a movie from 1979 with 179 characters that is better known under the international titles Blood Feud or Revenge).

Although Wertmüller has had a prolific career since, and is still actively directing, none of her later films have had the same impact as her mid-1970s collaborations with Giannini. Wertmüller was married to Enrico Job (died 4 March 2008), an art designer who worked on several of her pictures.

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