Biography of Gillo Pontecorvo

Gillo Pontecorvo was an Italian director, screenwriter and composer. Actively directing documentary films from 1953 to 2003, Pontecorvo is best known for his political dramas of the 1960s and 1970s.

The son of a wealthy Italian Jewish businessman, Pontecorvo was introduced to leftwing political ideas during his time studying chemistry at the University of Pisa. He started making short documentaries while living in Paris from 1938 until 1941, at which point he joined the Italian Communist Party and returned to Italy to become an anti-fascist organizer. He was also a resistance leader in Milan from 1943 to 1945.

His first feature-length film was The Wide Blue Road in 1957, followed by 1960's Kapò, a drama set in a Nazi concentration camp. Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers (1966) is considered the director's masterpiece and a leading example of the neorealist genre of filmmaking, as it uses mainly non-actors and is told largely through newsreel-style footage. Pontecorvo directed two more dramas, Burn! (1969) and Orgo (1979).

In 2000, Pontecorvo was made a Knight's Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Study Guides on Works by Gillo Pontecorvo

Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers (1966) is a film about the Algerian struggle for independence from colonial France in the 1950s. Shot in documentary style with a cast of non-professional actors, the film depicts the guerrila attacks of...