Lina Wertmüller (Italian: [ˈliːna vertˈmuller]; born 14 August 1928) is an Italian screenwriter and film director. She was the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for Seven Beauties in 1977. She is also known for her films The Seduction of Mimi, Love and Anarchy and Swept Away.
Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Spañol von Braueich|
14 August 1928
|Occupation||Screenwriter, film director|
|Spouse(s)||Enrico Job (died 4 March 2008)|
Wertmüller was born Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Spañol von Braueich in Rome in 1928 to a devoutly Roman Catholic Swiss family of aristocratic descent. She was a rebellious child, and was expelled from more than a dozen Catholic schools. Though her father wanted her to become a lawyer she enrolled in theatre school.
After graduating from school, her first job was touring Europe in a puppet show. For the next ten years she worked as an actress, director and playwright in legitimate theatre. During this period she met Giancarlo Giannini, who later starred in many of her films.
Through her acquaintance with Marcello Mastroianni, she met Federico Fellini and, in 1962, Fellini offered her the assistant director position on 8½. The following year, Wertmüller made her directorial debut with The Lizards (I Basilischi). The film's subject matter—the lives of impoverished people in southern Italy—became a recurring motif in her later work. The Lizards was well received by critics and the art house crowd, but was little seen. After this, Wertmüller would consciously attempt to make popular movies. "It gives me more pleasure to entertain making movies that everybody sees, not the intellectuals. I couldn't give a shit about the intellectuals."
Several moderately successful films followed The Lizards, but not until the 1970s did Wertmüller achieve lasting international acclaim with a series of four movies starring Giancarlo Giannini. The last, and best-received of these, was 1975's Seven Beauties (Pasqualino Settebellezze), which earned four Academy Award nominations and was an international hit. Wertmüller was the first woman nominated for her Academy Award for Best Director for this holocaust based film in 1977. She was in the USA when it was announced and she was surprised by the media reaction as she put little weight on awards. In retrospect she thinks this was an important step for women and it was two decades before there was another. Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow and Greta Gerwig are the only other female directors nominated (with Bigelow the only to win).
Her 1978 film, A Night Full of Rain, was entered into the 28th Berlin International Film Festival. Eight years later, her film Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime) was entered into the 36th Berlin International Film Festival.
In 1985, she received the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.
She is known for her whimsically prolix movie titles. For instance, the full title of Swept Away is Swept away by an unusual destiny in the blue sea of August. These titles were invariably shortened for international release. She is entered in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest film title: Un fatto di sangue nel comune di Siculiana fra due uomini per causa di una vedova. Si sospettano moventi politici. Amore-Morte-Shimmy. Lugano belle. Tarantelle. Tarallucci e vino. That 1979 movie with 179 characters is better known under the international titles Blood Feud or Revenge.
Her 1983 film A Joke of Destiny was entered into the 14th Moscow International Film Festival. Wertmüller has had a prolific career since, and still actively directs, though none of her later films have had the same impact as her mid-1970s collaborations with Giannini. Wertmüller was married to Enrico Job (died 4 March 2008), an art designer who worked on several of her pictures.
In general, Wertmüller's films highly reflect her own political commitments, with main characters who are either dedicated anarchists, communists, feminists, or all those—and main action that centers on political or socioeconomic conflicts. Wertmüller self-identified as socialist. Swept Away tells the story of a rich, liberated industrialist's wife who finds erotic fulfillment only after being sado-masochistically "tamed" by a macho, communist private yacht deck-hand. The film earned the ire of orthodox feminists, one of whom asked in a review whether Wertmüller had now become "one of the boys".
|1965||Let's Talk About Men|
|1966||Rita the Mosquito|
|1967||Don't Sting the Mosquito|
|1968||The Belle Starr Story|
|1972||The Seduction of Mimi|
|1973||Love and Anarchy|
|1974||All Screwed Up|
|1974||Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August|
|1978||A Night Full of Rain|
|1983||A Joke of Destiny|
|1986||Camorra (A Story of Streets, Women and Crime)|
|1986||Summer Night, with Greek Profile, Almond Eyes and Scent of Basil|
|1989||As Long as It's Love|
|1989||The Tenth One in Hiding|
|1990||Saturday, Sunday and Monday|
|1996||The Blue Collar Worker and the Hairdresser in a Whirl of Sex and Politics|
|1999||Ferdinando and Carolina|
|2004||Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed Peppers|