Benvenuti, Paolo

   Painter, screenwriter, director. One of Italy's most resolutely independent filmmakers, Benvenuti initially trained as a painter at the Florence Art Institute, but a strong sense of social commitment soon led him to exchange his paint-brushes for a film camera. Beginning in 1968, he produced short films and documentaries before working as a voluntary assistant for Roberto Rossellini on L'eta dei Medici (The Age of the Medici, 1972). After also assisting Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet on Moses und Aaron (Aaron and Moses, 1974), he made several historical documentaries before directing his first full-length feature, Il bacio di Giuda (The Kiss of Judas, 1988), a reexamination of the relationship between Judas and Christ, which was received warmly when screened in competition at the Venice Festival. There followed three rigorously researched historical features, Confortorio (1992), revolving around the official execution of two Jewish men in Rome in 1736; Tiburzi (1996), an inquiry into the capture and killing of the Tuscan bandit Domenico Tiburzi in 1896; and Gostanza da Libbiano (Gostanza of Libbiano, 2000), a meticulous recreation (in black and white) of the trial of a woman accused of being a witch in San Miniato in 1594. Strongly praised and favorably compared with Carl Theodore Dreyer's La Passion de Jeanne D'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928), Gostanza was nominated for the Golden Leopard at the Festival of Locarno but received the Special Jury Prize. Benvenuti's more recent Segreti di stato (Secret File, 2003) was an attempt to re-examine all the disparate evidence regarding the violent incident at Portella della Ginestra in Sicily on May Day 1951, in which 11 Communists were shot dead and dozens wounded, allegedly by the band of the brigand Salvatore Giuliano. The film was widely praised for its rigor and civic courage and was nominated for the Golden Lion at Venice.
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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