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Pontecorvo, Gillo (Gilberto)

Film director After studying chemistry at the University of Pisa, Pontecorvo turned to journalism and became a left-wing correspondent in Paris. In 1941 he returned to Italy, joined the PCI and fought as a partisan. After the war he spent several years as assistant to Mario Monicelli. His first feature film, La grande strada azzurra (The Long Blue Road) (1957) was an adaptation of a novel by Franco Solinas, who collaborated on many scripts of Pontecorvo’s later films. La battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers) (1966), Pontecorvo’s most famous film, was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1966. Financed by Algerian government money and starring actual members of the liberation movement, it adopts a semidocumentary style to meticulously recreate historical events. The international success of this film-except in France, where it was banned for many years-paved the way for Pontecorvo’s move to Hollywood where he made Queimada/Burn! (1969), a film about the self-destructive nature of colonialism starring Marlon Brando. This was followed by Ogro (The Tunnel) (1979) dealing with Basque terrorism. In 1992 Pontecorvo was appointed Director of the Venice Film Festival, and set about engineering its return to world significance.