Gillo Pontecorvo

19.11.1919 - 12.10.2006



Pontecorvo was an Italian director and screenwriter, born as Gilberto Pontecorvo. He was born in a Jewish family that moved to France in 1938 because of Italian Fascist race laws. During WW II, he returned to Italy and joined the resistance. He studied chemistry for a short time in Pisa and then worked as a journalist in Paris. There he got introduced to film and started to work as assistant director to Joris Ivens and Yves Allégret. In the 1950’s he began directing his own documentaries. His first feature film was La grande strada azzurra (1957), which he made together with Maleno Malenotti. His film Kapò (1960), about a Jewish girl in a concentration camp, attracted international attention. It was nominated for an Oscar in the category Best Foreign film in 1961. However, his biggest success was the drama The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri, 1966), which won many film awards. It was made in the documentarist style and with non-professional actors and made a great influence on many film authors. In late 1960’s he made another anti-colonial film Burn! (Queimada, 1969) starring Marlon Brando. In the 1970’s he directed only the political thriller Ogro (1979). From the 1980’s he directed documentaries and short films and segments of several omnibuses.


Films by this director

The Battle of Algiers

(La battaglia di Algeri, Italy, Alžir, 1966)

Directed by: Gillo Pontecorvo
PHOTOGRAPHY: Marcello Gatti

This is a historical war drama med in the documentarist style. It follows the events in the capital of Algiers during the fight for independence from France from 1954 to 1957. One of the protagonists is Ali who advanced from a small-time crook to one of the leading members of the Algerian National Liberation Front. The French caught him in 1957 and the film consist of his memories of the fight for independence.

b/w, 121'
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