Fearless and controversial, Italian director Francesco Rosi was famous for taking on social and political issues in his films, questioning the establishment and advocating the rights of the disenfranchised. Born in Naples in 1922, Rosi's father was in the shipping business, but the elder Rosi loved movies, frequently taking his young son to the cinema, and even making his own amateur films with a Super-8 camera. Though Rosi grew up valuing the transformative power of film, his father nonetheless encouraged him to study law when he entered University. The program wasn't a great fit for Rosi's creative mind, but he did make a notable friend during his studies, Giorgio Napolitano, future president of Italy. The two would remain lifelong friends, even as Rosi switched his focus to illustration, creating images for children's books and drawing cartoons for magazines and newspapers. In 1946, Rosi changed career paths again and entered the film industry with a low level position working as an assistant to Luchino Visconti on the set of the movie "La Terra Terma" (1948). Rosi would later describe Visconti as his mentor in the world of cinema, teaching him everything there was to know about making movies in the innovative neo-realistic style that he would become known for. He soon began penning screenplays for movies like "Paris is Always Paris" (1951) and "The Bigamist" (1956), before gaining attention as a director with his breakthrough film "La sfida" (1958), based on the story of Naples-mafia kingpin Pasquale Simonetti. The film's stark, naturalistic tone was considered very revolutionary, and he was praised for tackling taboo subject matter in Italian society. He followed this up with another controversial message movie, "Hands Over the City" (1963), which depicted the corruption behind the urban development program in Naples. Rosi would speak openly about his inspiration to make a movie more about society than about individual characters, an aspect that critics found fascinating. The director won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival for the film. Rosi had a romantic relationship with actor Nora Ricci, and the two gave birth to a daughter, Francesca, who showed signs of developmental problems. Nonetheless, Rosi adored his daughter, and was devastated when she was later killed in a car accident in which Rosi was driving. He went on to marry Giancarla Mandelli in 1966, with whom he had another daughter, Carolina, who would go on to become an actor. Rosi remained busy for decades to come, long after his reputation had been firmly established as one of the most influential Italian filmmakers of his generation. "The Mattei Affair" (1972) won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, while "Christ Stopped at Eboli" (1979) won a BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film. He also worked in English language film with "The Palermo Connection" (1989), co-written by Gore Vidal and starring Jim Belushi, as well as the holocaust drama "The Truce" (1997) with John Tuturro. This would prove to be Rosi's last film, as he retired from working to care for his ailing wife. Rosi died on January 10, 2015. He was 92 years old.
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Actor, writer and director for Radio Naples
Moved to Rome as assistant director of Theater Quirino
Hired by Visconti as assistant director on "The Earth Trembles"
Co-screenwriter of Luciano Emmer's "Parigi e sempre parigi"
Completed direction of "Red Shirts" after original director, Goffredo Alessandrini, quit
Technical director and co-adaptor of Vittorio Gassman's "Kean"
First film as solo director, "The Challenge"
Helmed the award-winning "The Mattei Affair"
Directed the Oscar-nominated foreign language film "Three Brothers"
Helmed "Carmen", an adaptation of Bizet's opera
Was director of the action film "The Palermo Connection"
Released "The Truce" after spending ten years making the film
Was given an Honorary Degree in "Urban and Environmental Planning" by the Mediterranea University of Reggio Calabria.