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Renowned Italian filmmaker Paolo Taviani, celebrated for his compelling biographical drama Padre Padrone, which clinched the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, passed away at the age of 92 on Thursday, February 29, 2024. Roberto Gualtieri, the mayor of Rome, announced the news. 

Paolo Taviani succumbed to a brief illness in a Roman clinic on February 29, surrounded by his family, as reported by the media. He is survived by his wife and two children. The funeral services are scheduled for Monday, March 4, according to the ANSA news agency.

For over three decades, Paolo, in collaboration with his brother Vittorio, stood at the forefront of cinematic direction and created some of the most influential and enduring works in film history. “Paolo Taviani, a towering figure in Italian cinema, has departed from our midst,” Gualtieri proclaimed on X, formerly known as Twitter. The Taviani brothers were lauded for their “unforgettable, profound, and committed films that have become entrenched in the collective psyche and the annals of cinematic history,” he added.

Together, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, the latter having passed away in 2018, produced films that were politically charged and culturally significant for more than fifty years. Their seminal work, Padre Padrone, narrates the story of a young Sardinian shepherd’s struggle and ultimate liberation from his tyrannical father. The film, an adaptation of Gavino Ledda’s autobiographical novel, was honored with the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1977.

Gilles Jacob, former president of the Cannes festival, reflected on Paolo Taviani’s legacy, describing him as “one half of an enchanting duo.” Following Vittorio’s demise, Paolo ventured to direct Leonora Addio, a film that premiered at the Berlinale film festival in 2022. The narrative, revolving around death and the aftermath of creative pursuits, originated from an idea conceived by the brothers together. Despite the loss of Vittorio, Paolo felt his presence during the creation of Leonora Addio. In an interview with AFP, he reminisced about their early inspiration drawn from Roberto Rossellini, a luminary of Italian Neorealism. “The decision to pursue filmmaking was made when Vittorio was 18 and I was 16, inspired by Rossellini’s ‘Paisan,'” Taviani recounted. He further elaborated on their aspiration to make films that could transform lives and unveil deeper truths.

Jacob heralded the Tavianis as “heirs to Rossellini,” praising their works for their “inimitable moral rigor and poetic grace.” He singled out Padre Padrone and the 1982 fantasy war drama The Night of the Shooting Stars as exemplary of their capacity to blend strength with delicacy. Another notable achievement of the brothers was the 2012 film Caesar Must Die, which garnered the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Born in 1931 in San Miniato, Tuscany, Taviani’s early engagement with social issues, a legacy of their father’s anti-fascist principles, permeated their cinematic oeuvre, renowned for its fusion of historical narrative, psychological insight and lyrical beauty. Eugenio Giani, the governor of Tuscany, lamented Taviani’s death as “leaving an irreplaceable void not only in the realm of cinema but in the hearts of all who were touched by his heritage and his profound affection for this land.”

With AFP.