Paolo Taviani, Award-Winning Italian Director, Dies at 92

Italian director Paolo Taviani, who with his late brother Vittorio formed the revered filmmaking duo that in 1977 won the Cannes Palme d’Or for “Padre Padrone,” has died at 92.

Taviani died on Thursday in a Rome clinic after suffering from a short illness, according to Italian media reports. “Paolo Taviani, a great maestro of Italian cinema, leaves us,” Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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The Taviani brothers “directed unforgettable, profound, committed films that entered into the collective imagination and the history of cinema,” Gualtieri added.

Vittorio was the youngest of the Taviani Brothers, who emerged in the 1970s as the prolific pair whose works blended neo-realism with more modern storytelling in works such as “Padre Padrone” (1977), “The Night of the Shooting Stars” (1982) and Luigi Pirandello adaptation “Kaos” (1984).

Born in the Tuscan town of San Miniato, Vittorio and Paolo Taviani soon moved to nearby Pisa where as high school students they became aspiring directors.

“We walked into a movie theater called Cinema Italia, which no longer exists, and there was a film playing called ‘Paisà’ that we had never heard of,” the Taviani Brothers told Variety in 2016 of Roberto Rossellini’s 1946 film. That experience “really blew our minds,” they said.  “We had experienced the war as kids, and very deeply. But what we were seeing on screen made that reality so much clearer for us. This movie was telling us things about ourselves that we did not know. So we said to ourselves: ‘If cinema has this strength, this power to reveal to ourselves our own truths, then we will make movies!’”

Years later, when they went to Cannes with “Padre Padrone,” the fact that Rossellini awarded them the Palme d’Or was “like the closure of a splendid luminous circle,” they said.

More recently, the Taviani Brothers won the Berlin Golden Bear in 2012 with “Caesar Must Die,” which is about high-security inmates acting Shakespeare. That was followed by “Wondrous Boccaccio” (2014), an adaptation of “The Decameron,” and “Una Questione Privata” in 2017, based on a novella by Italian author Beppe Fenoglio.

After his brother’s death in 2018, Paolo Taviani went solo with “Leonora Addio,” which competed at the Berlinale in 2022. His last film takes its cue from a story titled “Il Chiodo” (“The Nail”) written by Pirandello shortly before he died in 1936. It was a project the Taviani Brothers had long intended to film together.

Paolo Taviani was also working on a pandemic-themed drama titled “Canto Delle Meduse” that he was supposed to start shooting in April.

He is survived by his wife Lina Nerli Taviani and children Ermanno and Valentina.

The first-ever retrospective in the U.K. of the Taviani Brothers’ work, titled: “Magical Realism — The Film Fables of the Taviani Brothers,” is currently playing at BFI Southbank in London.

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