Lina Wertmuller, first woman nominated for an Oscar for best director, dies at 93

Lina Wertmüller, a visionary Italian filmmaker who made history as the first woman to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Director, has died, the Italian Ministry of Culture and The Republic reported Thursday. As reported by Variety, a friend of Wertmüller told the Italian press that she died “peacefully at home, next to her daughter and her relatives”. She was 93 years old.

Born Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Spañol von Braueich in Rome on August 14, 1928, Wertmüller was reportedly expelled from more than a dozen Catholic schools throughout her childhood. She eventually obtained a teaching certificate, then enrolled in both the law school and the Stanislavskian Drama Academy in Rome according to The New York Times. Wertmüller is said to cultivate his love of the theater by working as a puppeteer, actor and stage manager.

But it was an introduction to the famous filmmaker Federico Fellini, who hired her as an assistant director on his 8 ½ (1963) which would catalyze Wertmüller’s film career. “I met Fellini … and from there everything changed,” she said. Variety in 2018. “I got to see a way of making films that stuck with me forever.” Wertmüller began directing in the 1960s, although his breakout film would arrive with Mimi’s seduction (1972), followed by Swept (1974).

Seven beauties, Wertmüller’s comedy-drama about World War II in 1975 earned her Oscar nominations for writing and directing, making her the first female nominee in the latter category. The film also won the awards for best foreign language film and best actor for Giancarlo Giannini. Although Wertmüller did not win, she received an Honorary Oscar in 2019, alongside David Lynch, Wes Studi, and Geena Davis. “She would like to change the Oscar to a female name”, Isabelle Rossellini said, translating Wertmüller’s acceptance speech. “She would like to call her ‘Anna’. Women in the room, please shout, ‘We want Anna, a female Oscar!’ “

Wertmüller is one of seven women to have received the nomination for Best Director in nearly 100 years of Oscar history. She is joined by Jane campion for The piano, Sofia coppola for Lost in the translation, Catherine bigelow for The Hurt Locker (the first woman to win the award), Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird, Emerald Fennell for Promising young woman, and Chloe Zhao for Nomadic country (the second woman to win).

“It was the media reaction that made me realize how important my appointment was,” Wertmüller said in 2018. “Since I was in the United States, I have been inundated with requests for interviews from TV stations and newspapers. Someone told me that the reports trumpeted the appointment as if it was a historic event. In fact, in hindsight it was, especially for women all over the world. To this day, I receive thank you letters from directors who say they were inspired by my experience. “

After his record-breaking nominations, Wertmüller signed a four-film deal with Warner Bros., which was terminated after the critical and box-office failure of his English debut, A night full of rain. “I have to be honest: I was a little relieved,” she said. Variety of the terminated contract. “In America, I didn’t feel free to work as I used to, with the same creative freedom, like being able to change a line of the script shortly before shooting, which made cinema great. Italian. She added: “It is no accident that Fellini never agreed to work in America.”

Wertmüller’s later works include blood feud, A joke of fate, Slowly slowly, and Crystal or Ash, Fire or Wind, as long as it is Love. She was married to decorator Enrico Job until her death in 2008 and is survived by their daughter, Maria Zulima Job.

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