Ambrosio, Arturo

(1882-1960)
   Filmmaker and producer. One of the founding fathers of the Italian film industry, Ambrosio was a photographer who owned an optical equipment and photographic supply shop in Turin in the early years of the 20th century. In 1904 he returned from Paris with a French camera and, together with fellow photographers and film enthusiasts Roberto Omegna and Giovanni Vitrotti, began experimenting with the new medium in documenting current events. Two years later, buoyed by the success of these short documentaries and with the foresight of an astute entrepreneur, he founded the Ambrosio Film company, providing it with its own well-equipped studios and other appropriate facilities.
   The company quickly grew, continuing to make actualities and documentaries under the supervision of Omegna, but also soon expanded into fiction films of a wide variety of genres. In 1908 its pro-duction of Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (The Last Days of Pompeii) gave birth to the grand epic spectacles that would distinguish Italian cinema for the next five years.
   A good businessman and an able manager, Ambrosio steered the company through a long series of award-winning films and innovative strategies throughout the 1910s, successfully penetrating the American market and setting up partnerships with German and Russian film companies. However, in the crisis that gripped the industry in the period immediately following World War I, Ambrosio sold his stock in the company to Milanese industrialist Armando Zanotto and joined the ill-fated consortium Unione Cinematografica Italiana (UCI, Italian Cinematographic Union), for which he produced a number of films in the early 1920s. Following the spectacular critical and financial failure of the big-budget Quo vadis? (1925), Ambrosio retired from the industry, returning only briefly to head production at Scalera Film from 1939 to 1943.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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