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(1941 - 2018)

Born March 16, 1941, into a wealthy family in the northern Italian city of Parma, Bertolucci was an exceptional talent from a young age. The son of well-known poet and writer Attilio Bertolucci, he himself won an award for poetry at age 21, then decided to become a filmmaker.

He started out as an assistant to another Italian poet, Pier Paolo Pasolini, on Pasolini’s first feature Accattone (1961). Bertolucci’s debut film, The Grim Reaper (1962) screened at the Venice Film Festival. Two years later, his semi-autobiographical Before the Revolution (1962) featured in the Cannes Critics’ Week line-up. In 1970, he received his first Academy Award nomination for The Conformist, now hailed as a masterpiece. In 1972 when he was only 31, the controversial Last Tango in Paris brought Bertolucci worldwide fame as well as trouble in Italy where he was charged with obscenity. Following this he mounted his first Hollywood production, the daring historical epic 1900 (1976) and what he called his “faraway movies” set in distant locales: nine-time Oscar-winner The Last Emperor (1987) in China, The Sheltering Sky (1990) set in North Africa; and Little Buddha (1993), set in Nepal and Bhutan. In 1996, Bertolucci made his first movie in 15 years to be set and shot in Italy, the English-language Stealing Beauty starring 19-year-old Liv Tyler.

Among the many accolades bestowed on him were the Cannes Film Festival’s Honorary Palme d’Or for lifetime achievement in 2011; the Venice Film Festival’s Honorary Golden Lion in 2007; and the Locarno Film Festival Leopard of Honour in 1997. He presided over the Venice jury twice, in 1983 and 2013, and over the Cannes jury in 1990.