Italy has a rich culture of film and is known as the home of neo-realism, which made famous directors like Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica – whose works you will surely hear about should you decide to study in Italy. Italy is also home to the famous Spaghetti Western, a series of Western genre films produced in Italy by Italian directors. The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966) directed by Sergio Leone, is a particularly well known Spaghetti Western, often regarded as one of the best films of all time. In the history of film around the world, women were not often showcased for their expertise behind the camera until the 1970s or 80s. In Italy however, many women were recognized early on for their directorial skills, beginning with trailblazers like Elvira Notari.
Women in Italian Cinema: Past and Present
Elvira Notari is widely considered the earliest prominent female director in Italian cinema. She worked throughout the 1920s via her own production company called Dora Film, creating realist films with a focus on the female perspective. Other early Italian female directors include Liliana Cavani and Lina Wertmüller, whose film Seven Beauties (1975) earned four Academy Award nominations. Themes in early female directors’ films include Italian social issues, women’s issues and political conflicts.
If you have a passion for film, attending an American university in Rome can be an excellent way to immerse yourself in these local directorial legends, and perhaps even inspire your own creative work. Female directors have made a significant impact on film in Italy, and continue to produce work that influences and inspires younger generations of artists. Long-time actresses like Valeria Golino and Asia Argento have successfully transitioned into roles in the director’s chair, winning numerous Italian film awards. Up and coming female director Alice Rohrwacher has also received critical acclaim at the Cannes International film festival for her film Heavenly Body (2011), and her second film The Wonders (2014) won the Cannes Grand Prix.
Women in the Director’s Chair at JCU
At John Cabot University, we never miss an opportunity to showcase Italian arts and culture to students who study abroad in Italy. With this mission in mind, the Departments of Communications and Modern Languages and Literature, in collaboration with Istituto Luce/Cinecittà presents the “Women in the Director’s Chair” film series. This ongoing series showcases the work of Italian female directors, revealing their important position in the history and development of Italy’s famous film culture. Don’t miss the next screenings: on November 10th, director Alice Rohrwacher will be at John Cabot’s Guarini Campus for a screening of her 2014 film Le Meraviglie/The Wonders and on November 17th director Valeria Golino will present her film Miele/Honey.
Which female film directors inspire you most?