Neri Parenti

Neri Parenti (born 26 April 1950, in Florence) is an Italian film director and writer. He is known for comedy films, including the series starring Paolo Villaggio playing the character Ugo Fantozzi, and a later series of cinepanettoni - zany comedy films scheduled for release during the Christmas period.

Neri Parenti
Born (1950-04-26) 26 April 1950
Florence, Italy
Occupationfilm director
Years active1979-present
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)


After graduating in political science, he dedicated his career to filmmaking. He became a pupil and assistant of Pasquale Festa Campanile from 1972 to 1979, and also worked for Salvatore Samperi, Steno and Giorgio Capitani. In 1979 he directed his first film, the cinematic parody John Travolto... da un insolito destino (John Travolto [overwhelmed] ... by an unusual destiny), an ironic and comical imitation of Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta, which had been a hit two years earlier.

A year later he met the film actor and director Paolo Villaggio, who was then filming Fantozzi contro tutti (Fantozzi against all). Villaggio developed an esteem for Parenti and decided to leave the director’s chair to join forces with him. The result was very positive and the pair made another six films with the Fantozzi character, from Fantozzi subisce ancora (Fantozzi still suffers) (1983) to Fantozzi - Il ritorno (Fantozzi - The Return) (1996).[1][2]

His films feature catastrophic and noisy gags, referring back to American silent film, combined with typical situations from Italian comedy (commedia brillante)[3] and with some authorial motifs, repeated in almost all his films, from the diptych Scuola di ladri (School of thieves) (1986) and Scuola di ladri - Parte seconda (School of thieves - Part Two) (1987), to the famous trilogy Le comiche (The Comics) (1990), Le comiche 2 (The Comics 2) (1992), and Le nuove comiche (The New Comics) (1994).[4] His film The Comics was the fourth-highest-grossing film in Italy in 1990.[5] Parenti claimed in 2012 that he had been excommunicated twice for sequences in The Comics and The Comics 2 that he said had been considered outrageous by the Catholic Church.[6] The spokesman of the Holy See, Federico Lombardi, and Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, who from 2003 to 2008 was secretary of the Apostolic Signatura, both promptly denied the report, saying that the director was only joking.[7]

After the expiry of his contract with Villaggio in 1996, Parenti turned to directing Christmas movies, or cine-panettoni, starring Christian De Sica and Massimo Boldi.[8] Parenti had already experimented in this kind of movie when he was still working with Villaggio; the first such film he directed was Vacanze di Natale '95 (Christmas Holiday '95) (1995). Further films he made set at Christmas time started with Merry Christmas (2001), and ended with Vacanze di Natale a Cortina (Christmas holidays in Cortina) (2011), which registered the third highest takings in Italy that year.[9] Since then Parenti has directed Colpi di fulmine (Lightning Strikes) (2012) and Colpi di fortuna (Strokes of Luck) (2013). He is one of the few Italian directors to have stayed within a single genre throughout his career.[10]

List of films


  1. Frini, pp. 9-28
  2. Damien Simonis, "Florence". Lonely Planet Guides, 2006. ISBN 9781740598095.
  3. Frini, p. 37
  4. Frini, p. 55
  5. "Italian film industry falls on hard times", New Straits Times, 15 January 1991
  6. "Papa' cinepanettoni scomunicato due volte",, 12 December 2012
  7. "Nessun fulmine vaticano sui cinepanettoni" ("No Vatican rage on cinepanettoni"), Vatican Insider, La Stampa, 12 December 2012
  8. Christian Uva & Michele Picchi, Destra e sinistra nel cinema italiano: film e immaginario politico dagli anni '60 al nuovo millennio ("Left and right in Italian cinema"). p. 165. Edizioni Interculturali, 2006. ISBN 88-8837-566-X.
  9. "Italian Films 2012: The Awards vs The Box Office", "I Love Italian Movies", 3 December 2012
  10. Frini, p. 130
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