‘Palme d’Or’ Winning Director Ermanno Olmi Dies at 86

Labor News, Industry News

Ermanno Olmi in Cannes in 1978. Photograph: Levy/AP

Reprinted from The Manchester Guardian by  on May 7, 2018.

As he typically explored spiritual conflicts within families, the director Ermanno Olmi, who has died aged 86, was something of an outsider in his native Italy, where orthodox Catholics thought him too progressive and militant communists considered him too much of a reactionary Catholic. Only after his most acclaimed film, L’Albero degli Zoccoli (The Tree of Wooden Clogs, 1978) won him the Palme d’Or at Cannes did Olmi get recognition at home as well as abroad.

A native of Lombardy, born in Bergamo and brought up in nearby Treviglio, he used the northern region as the setting for many of his films. Olmi kept notebooks recording the tales his grandmother told him about her early life as a peasant, and they provided the material for The Tree of Wooden Clogs, which has an agricultural setting. To the criticisms that his film’s rural family was not rebellious enough, a resentful Olmi replied that they rebelled in the only way possible for them – by sending their brightest child to school. When I interviewed Olmi for the South Bank Show a few years after he made the film, he said he had aimed to express what the poet Andrea Zanzotto once described as “the whisper of the generations”. …

Guardian UK 5/7

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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