Lina Wertmüller, the Italian filmmaker behind Seven Beauties, A Night Full of Rain and Love & Anarchy, has passed away at 93. The very first woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director, Wertmüller made history with Seven Beauties in 1975, a film starring Giancarlo Giannini, Fernando Rey and Shirley Stoler that was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Born in Rome in 1928, Lina Wertmüller became interested in the theatre in the late ‘40s where she took her puppet company around Europe before rubbing shoulders with the iconic filmmaker Federico Fellini via a friend from school. Working alongside Fellini for his masterpiece, 8 ½, Wertmüller was then gifted with the chance to make her film of her own in 1963, making The Basilisks with music from Ennio Morricone.
Receiving an honorary Oscar in 2020 for her contributions to cinema, Wertmüller told The Shortlisted at the time: “It’s been great and exciting. Sophia Loren was also there, and it was important to have her there, and then my family was there, too. It’s been a great experience”.
Unusually, Wertmüller did not appear at the ceremony when she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director in 1977, instead, she sent Lalla Kezich the wife of Italian screenwriter, Tullio Kezich. Asked why she did this, she told the publication: “I’m just very playful, I like to play around. I just don’t like to take things too seriously”.
Enjoying a career lasting over half a century, Lina Wertmüller leaves a charming and revolutionary legacy on the history of cinema, paving the way for future female filmmakers such as Kathryn Bigelow, Greta Gerwig and Chloé Zhao. Known for her classic films, Seven Beauties, Swept Away, The Lizards and Camorra, Lina Wertmüller will forever be recognised as an icon of European cinema whose influence permeated overseas.