Maselli, Francesco

   Director and screenwriter. During a career that has spanned half a century, Maselli has remained one of the most politically vocal and socially committed of all Italian directors. After taking part in the Resistance movement during World War II, Maselli enrolled at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, graduating in 1949. At the same time he served as assistant on some of Michelangelo Antonioni's early documentaries and made a number of his own, which were shown to strong acclaim at Venice. He subsequently worked as codirector with Cesare Zavattini on La storia di Caterina (Caterina's Story),one of the six episodes of the compilation film Amore in Citta (Love in the City, 1953). He would collaborate again with Zavattini in the early 1960s, when he would contribute the episode Le adolescenti e I'amore (The Adolescents and Love) to Zavattini's Le italiane e l'amore (Latin Lovers, 1961).
   His first feature, Gli sbandati (Abandoned, 1955), examined the issue of political responsibility among the younger generation at the time of the events of 1943. After a number of minor works, including Bambini al cinema (Children at the Cinema, 1956), a delightful short film about a small cinema for children in Rome's Villa Borghese, he made I delfini (The Dauphins, 1960), a scathing portrait of the bored and wealthy younger generation in a provincial city at the beginning of Italy's economic boom. This was followed by a finely crafted adaptation of Alberto Moravia's novel Gli Indifferenti (A Time of Indifference, 1964), beautifully photographed in black and white by master cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo. Maselli played an active part in the protests of 1968 including the occupation and boycott of the Venice Festival that year, following which he made Lettera aperta a un giornale della sera (Open Letter to an Evening Daily, 1970), a highly polemic and provocative film shot on 16 mm film in cinema verite style. This was followed by Il sospetto (The Suspect, 1975), a taut and highly charged political thriller set in the mid-1930s, written with Marxist screenwriter Franco Solinas and starring Gian Maria Volonte in what was perhaps one of his finest performances. For the next decade Maselli largely produced films made for television, among them Avventura di un fotografo (The Adventure of a Photographer, 1984), which he adapted from a short story by Italo Calvino. He returned to the big screen with Storia d'amore (Love Story, 1986), a penetrating psychological study of female breakdown that earned the film the Grand Jury Prize at Venice as well as the Volpi Cup for lead actress, Valeria Golino. As an active member of the Communist Refoundation Party and president of ANAC, Maselli organized a number of directors to film the antiglobalization demonstration at the G8 meeting in Rome in 2002. His most recent works have been documentaries: Lettere dalla Palestina (Letters from Palestine, 2002) and Firenze, nostro domaini (Florence, Our Tomorrow, 2003).
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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