Ermanno Olmi

Ermanno Olmi (24 July 1931 – 7 May 2018[1][2][3]) was an Italian film director and screenwriter.

Ermanno Olmi
Olmi in 2013
Born(1931-07-24)24 July 1931
Died7 May 2018(2018-05-07) (aged 86)
Asiago, Italy
OccupationFilm director
Film editor
Years active1953–2018


Olmi was born to a Catholic family[4] in Bergamo, in the Lombardy region in northern Italy.[5] [6] When Olmi was three years old, his family moved to Milan,[5] where he attended a scientific high school and took acting classes at the Academy of Dramatic Arts. He became interested in filmmaking while he was working at the Milanese electrical company Edisonvolta, where he began by producing 16mm documentaries about power plants.[6][2]

In 1963 he married Loredana Detto, who had played Antonietta Masetti in his film Il Posto (1961).[7] Another early film was I fidanzati (1963).

Perhaps his best known film is The Tree of Wooden Clogs (L'Albero degli zoccoli), which was awarded the Palme d'Or at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival. The film drew heavily on Olmi's grandmother's stories about peasant life in agricultural regions of Italy.[2] In 1983 his film Walking, Walking was screened out of competition at Cannes. In 1988, his La leggenda del santo bevitore (The Legend of the Holy Drinker), based on the novella by Joseph Roth and starring Rutger Hauer, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival as well as a David di Donatello award.

His The Profession of Arms (Il mestiere delle armi) also won a David di Donatello award.

In 2008 he received the Honorary Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.[8]

Olmi died on May 7th 2018 in Asiago, after a long battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome. [8]

Directing techniques

Olmi's films have been described as "humanistic and reflective, portraying everyday people in particular landscapes and locations, while at the same time being charged with social comment and poetic flashes."[9]

His films fit into the artistic mold of Italian neorealism, though Olmi argued, in an interview found on the Criterion Edition DVD of his 1961 film, Il Posto, that this was the artistic tradition he was responding against because he used non-actors in authentic locations whereas neorealism, he claimed, used professional actors. However, many neorealist directors also used non-professional actors for secondary and sometimes even primary roles.

His films, like most of those considered to be products of the neorealist movement, are shot in long, slow takes, and generally contain some sort of social commentary, though rarely do the neorealists wear their political opinions on their sleeves.


David di Donatello

Nastro d'Argento



In February 2016, the Cinémathèque suisse honored Olmi with a retrospective at the cinema "Le Capitole" in Lausanne.[9]

From January 10 to February 28, 2019, the Austrian Film Museum conducted a complete retrospective of Olmi's work (excluding only his short films) - together with the films of Federico Fellini - in collaboration with the "" and the "Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Vienna".[10]


  1. Lutto nel cinema, è morto Ermanno Olmi (in Italian)
  2. Lane, John Francis (May 7, 2018). "Ermanno Olmi obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  3. Ermanno Olmi, Palme d'Or-Winning Director of 'The Tree of Wooden Clogs,' Dies at 86
  4. Young, Deborah (12 February 2017). "The Tree of Wooden Clogs: The Sacredness of Life as Understatement". The Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 8 July 2019. Born in the Lombard province Bergamo to a working-class family with deep Catholic roots...
  5. Roberts, Sam (May 8, 2018). "Ermanno Olmi, Whose Films Captured Humble Lives, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-05-12. Print version, May 10, 2018, p. A25.
  6. "Ermanno Olmi - biography - The Neorealism". Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  7. "Ermanno Olmi: moglie, figli e vita privata del regista". News Mondo (in Italian). 7 May 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  8. "'Maestro of Italian cinema' Ermanno Olmi dies". 7 May 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  9. Smith, Jannuzzi. "Ermanno Olmi film retrospective | Jannuzzi Smith". Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  10. "Filmmuseum - Programmarchiv". (in German). Retrieved 28 February 2019.
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