December 09, 2021
The one-time assistant director to Federico Fellini went on to have a distinguished directorial career in the 1970sPeter Bradshaw on Lina Wertmüller: a thrilling live-wire film-makerLina Wertmüller, the Italian film-maker who was the first woman to be nominated for the best director Oscar, has died aged 93 in Rome. Wertmüller, whose scabrous political fables made a major impact on international cinema in the early 70s, was Oscar-nominated for her 1975 film Seven Beauties, and was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2019.
Lina Wertmüller, first woman to be nominated for best director Oscar, dies aged 93
Born in 1928 in Rome, Wertmüller – whose full name was Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Spanol von Braueich, due to her part-Swiss descent – became interested in theatre and performance in her 20s, touring Europe with a puppet company, before getting to know film director Federico Fellini (via a schoolfriend who was married to Actor Marcello Mastroianni). She worked as an assistant director on Fellini’s 1963 masterpiece 8 1/2 (“I was the worst assistant, but that was overlooked because I was likable,” she later told the Guardian), and made her own film debut in the same year with The Basilisks, a slow-paced portrait of life in a southern Italian town, and which benefited from a score by Ennio Morricone.
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