Renzo Rossellini (producer)

Renzo Rossellini (born 24 August 1941), also called Rossellini Jr., is an Italian film producer, left-wing political activist and communication innovator. He is the second son of costume designer Marcella de Marchis and film director Roberto Rossellini. Since 1964, he has produced 64 films.

Renzo Rossellini
Born (1941-08-24) 24 August 1941
Rome, Italy
OccupationFilm producer, screenwriter
Years active1953–present
Parent(s)Roberto Rossellini
Marcella De Marchis
RelativesIsabella Rossellini (paternal half-sister)

From 1977 to 1983 he was President of Gaumont Italy and was instrumental in the modernization of Italian film theaters, introducing multiplex structures. In 1975 he co-founded Radio Città Futura in Rome, one of the first "free"  not state-owned  radio stations in Italy. In 1981, one year after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, he co-founded Radio Free Kabul. He lives in Rome and Los Angeles.

Learning from his father

In 1958, Renzo Rossellini graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia with a degree in Visual Arts. After graduation, he began working in the movie industry, while studying History and Philosophy at the Sorbonne University in Paris, albeit without graduating.

In those years, he had a love story with Katherine L. O'Brien. From their relationship, their son Alessandro is born.

From 1959 to 1977, Renzo worked with his father Roberto, as assistant director, second unit director and producer. Together, they made a number of movies and TV mini-series, mainly documentaries for Italian state television RAI. He then married Patrizia Mannajuolo, his first wife.

In 1962, he directed a segment of the film Love at Twenty, which gets nominated at the 12th Berlin International Film Festival.[1]

Il the Sixties, with his San Diego Film Company, he filmed and produced newsreels on the birth of several national liberation movements, ranging from the Algerian National Liberation Front to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the Mozambican Liberation Front.[2] In 1966, while in Cuba, he took part to the foundation of Tricontinental, the organization built by Ernesto "Che" Guevara to promote national liberation's movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, in which he represented the Algerian population.

Political Activism and Free Radios

In the early Seventies he became a member of Avanguardia operaia, an organization of the Italian new left-wing political party. At that time he founded, with director Cesare Zavattini, actor and Noble Prize Dario Fo, and director Mario Monicelli the Italian National Committee against Fascism in the Mediterranean.[3]

During those years, he lived with Chantal Personè: from their union a daughter, Rossa, is born.

In 1975, in Rome, he established — with publisher Giulio Savelli and the support from several Feminist groups, militants of Avanguardia operaia and of Partito di Unità Proletaria per il Comunismo — Radio Città Futura, RCF, one of the major Italian free radios.[4] In Italy, from the Fascist Thirties up to the Democratic Seventies, the only radios allowed to exist were those owned by the Government. The movement's radios of Italy set up the Federation of Democratic Italian Radios, or FRED. FRED's members, differentiating themselves from purely commercial radios, introduced the talk radio practice to the Italian audience, bringing to the forefront with interviews and live broadcasts, people and their lives' happenings. Rossellini was subsequently elected President of FRED.

In the general political elections of June 1976, like Italian screenwriter Ugo Pirro, he endorsed the Proletarian Democracy party, a coalition representing the major groups of the Italian new left.[5]

Death of Roberto and birth of Gaumont Italy

Over Christmas 1976, five months before dying, Roberto Rossellini wrote to his son Renzo a letter, which is both a summary of their relationship and a concise spiritual testament. In the letter, Roberto apologizes for not having followed his son's inclinations and leaves him the task to protect and promote his audiovisual encyclopaedic project.

In 1977, when his father Roberto passed away, he takes care of the large Rossellini family and becomes President of Gaumont Italy, the newly formed Italian branch of French-based multinational Gaumont Film Company, which he will lead for seven years, until 1983.

In 1978, due to the Aldo Moro Kidnapping, he is accused by the media to have foretold the kidnapping, live on Radio Città Futura, some two hours before it actually happened. Rossellini explained that, on the morning of the kidnapping while reviewing and commenting the press, he just advanced an inductive political hypothesis. He pointed out that, on the day in which the Italian Democratic Christian party was forming a government with the explicit back up of the Italian Communist Party, this new event would most certainly lead to an attack from the Red Brigades.[6]

In January 1979, a neofascist commando from the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, assaults with automatic rifles and guns the headquarters of Radio Città Futura, wounding five women and setting fire to their offices and transmitters. This happened just as Renzo finished reading the morning press news.[7]

During his seven years as president of Gaumont Italy, he produced and distributed more than 100 movies, bringing some freshness to the Italian movie industry.

He produced a few movies with a number of established and distinguished Italian directors like Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli, Liliana Cavani, Marco Ferreri, Lina Wertmüller, Carlo Lizzani, Francesco Rosi, Michelangelo Antonioni and Marco Bellocchio. He also promotes new younger talents, such as Nanni Moretti. He encourages TV directors to try wide screen movies, as with Gianni Amelio. In 1984, he produced Francesca Comencini's first movie.

Following the example of the French Gaumont, he builds a company encompassing movie industry's three main branches: production, distribution, and theaters. From 1979, with the help of French funds, Rossellini buys a part of ECI (Esercizi Cinematografici Italiani), the Italian State-owned movie theaters company, which was on the verge of bankruptcy.[8][9]

In 1980, while arguing about a new rise in ticket prices favored by Italian movie distributors,[10] Rossellini proposes instead to increase the number of spectators, through introducing discounted prices for youth and elderly people, to the introduction of multiplex theaters, like in France and the United States.[11] The facts follow the words, although much slower. During Rossellini's leadership of Gaumont Italy, in autumn 1982, the historical Fiamma theatre, in the center of Rome, is split in two screens of 800 and 250 seats respectively.[12] Restructuring of the Odeon theater in Milan, another historical building, into eight screens proves to be much more difficult and lengthy. It begins in 1980[11] but will complete six years later, three years after Rossellini's resignation as president of Gaumont Italy.[13]

Another noteworthy Rossellini's initiative is the creation of the Gaumont Italy Movie School, a smithery of directors and producers like Daniele Luchetti, Carlo Carlei, Antonello Grimaldi, Domenico Procacci.

Radio-free Kabul

Even while serving as President of Gaumont Italy, Rossellini continues his political activism. In the Summer 1981 a group of French and defected East European intellectuals, comprising Bernard-Henri Lévy, Marek Halter, and Vladimir Bukovsky decides to organize a non-armed operation to oppose the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The project of the Paris based group is to help the Afghan partisans to build their radio, Radio Free Kabul, RFK.[14]

Rossellini is the operating arm of the RFK committee. In August 1981, he secretly travelled to Afghanistan, bringing with him three FM transmitters and the experience gained with Radio Città Futura.[15] His reference person in Afghanistan is the partisan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. When Rossellini leaves Afghanistan, all Resistance groups but one have their united radio, reaching through repeaters the Afghan capital Kabul. Radio programs are in Pashto and in Dari, with a ten minutes prerecorded part in Russian. "The radio you have brought us is worth more than a thousand Kalashnikovs", is the comment of an anonymous partisan commander to French human rights activists.[16]

Radio Free Kabul remains on air for more than two years, being closed at the end of 1983 and followed by two different AM radio station. Nonetheless, the radio survived the fourth, fifth and sixth Soviet Panjshir offensives, with her score of wounded and killed technicians. One of the most popular parts of RFK programs, is a 15-minute letter box, where queries from listeners in Kabul, the resistance-held areas, and the refugee camps in Pakistan are answered.[16]

Some months after the disclosure of Rossellini's role in establishing RFK in Afghanistan, the Italian Red Brigades plan to kidnap Rossellini, for his role as one of the leaders of French multinational Gaumont. Germano Maccari, member of the Roman column of the Red Brigades, will years later tell to Rossellini that he followed him for two months and that the operation was canceled because the manager carried a weapon.[17]

End of Gaumont adventure and bad car incident

In November 1983, Rossellini resigns as president and general manager of Gaumont Italy. In the previous two years the company had suffered significant losses. Of the fourteen movies produced in the last two years, only a handful has generated revenues.[18] In an interview, Rossellini declares: "I'm the president of a company that, in a year, suffered a dozen failures by promoting a policy of film d'auteur. Of course I feel responsible. Resigning from president was the obvious and right thing to do".[19] Part of the problem comes from the majority shareholder, French Gaumont, which decides to stop financing the Italian experiment, wanting only to retain Gaumont Italy's theater chain or to sell it, to get back her initial investment.

In spring 1984, Rossellini establishes Artisti Associati, a movie production and distribution company, whose major success is co-production and distribution of 9½ Weeks by Adrian Lyne.

On 8 December 1984, a day before leaving for the United States, Rossellini and his wife Elisabetta Caracciolo suffer a terrible car incident. At the outskirts of Rome, the couple's car is pushed by two other cars out of the road and down to a cliff. Rossellini gets multiple femur ruptures. His wife Elisabetta finishes in a coma.[20]

In the following months, Rossellini devotes much of his time to recover himself and to take care of Elisabetta, in Italian, Swiss and American hospitals, where she dies, on 14 April 1985.

Recent activities

From 1987 to 2000, he takes care, as President of International Affairs, of international marketing for movie production companies, as Phyllis Carlyle Productions, HKM Films, and Shadow Hill Productions.

In Los Angeles, California, Renzo meets and marries, on 7 June 1989, Victoria Kifferstein, who becomes his third wife. Victoria Rossellini is a lawyer and joins 20th Century Fox in 1992. In 2016, she is promoted to Senior Executive Vice President of the company.[21] They have two sons, Giulia and Raphael Roberto.

In the second millennium, moving between Rome and Los Angeles, he devotes time to teaching: Movie and TV production for Rome's Nuova Università del Cinema e della Televisione; History of European Cinema at UCLA, at Salerno's Fisciano University, and at Naples Federico II University; Cinema History at Cuba's EICTV, and at Santo Domingo University; Movie aesthetics at Montreal's Quebec University.

In 2006 he directs Diritto di sognare, a documentary on Italian Mafia. In 2010 he co-produces Born in U.S.E., directed by Michele Diomà. The movie is dedicated to the 120 years of the movie industry, and features Francesco Rosi, Giuseppe Tornatore and Luis Bacalov.

He is devoting a considerable effort, with the help of Gabriella Boccardo, in maintaining, valorizing and distributing in the new media the memory of his father Roberto and of his works.


Producer, co-producer and associate producer

Year Title Director Notes
1967 Idea di un'isola Roberto Rossellini Producer, TV Movie Documentary
1969 Atti degli apostoli Roberto Rossellini Producer, TV Miniseries, 5 episodes
1970 Da Gerusalemme a Damasco Roberto Rossellini Producer
1971 Socrates Roberto Rossellini Producer, TV movie
1971 Rice University (film) Beppe Cino, Roberto Rossellini Producer, TV Movie Documentary
1971 Policeman Sergio Rossi Producer
1971 Equinozio Maurizio Ponzi Producer
1972 Blaise Pascal Roberto Rossellini Producer, TV movie
1972 Agostino d'Ippona Roberto Rossellini Producer, TV movie
1972-1973 L'età di Cosimo de Medici Roberto Rossellini Producer, TV mini-series, 3 episodes
1973 Intervista a Salvador Allende: La forza e la ragione Emidio Greco Producer, TV short documentary, Roberto Rossellini interviews Salvador Allende
1973 História do Brasil Glauber Rocha Producer, Documentary
1974 Cartesius Roberto Rossellini Producer, TV mini-series, 2 episodes
1978 Orchestra Rehearsal Federico Fellini Associate producer
1979 Seeking Asylum Marco Ferreri Co-producer, associate producer
1979 To Forget Venice Franco Brusati Associate producer
1979 Womanlight Costa-Gavras Co-producer
1979 Don Giovanni Joseph Losey Co-producer
1980 Death Watch Bertrand Tavernier Associate producer, uncredited
1980 City of Women Federico Fellini Producer
1980 Le Guignolo Georges Lautner Co-producer
1981 The Salamander Peter Zinner Co-producer
1981 The Skin Liliana Cavani Producer
1981 Three Brothers Francesco Rosi Associate producer, co-produced by Giorgio Nocella, Antonio Macri e Renzo Rossellini [22]
1981 Sweet Dreams Nanni Moretti Producer
1981 La festa perduta Pier Giuseppe Murgia Producer
1981 Il marchese del Grillo Mario Monicelli Producer
1982 That Night in Varennes Ettore Scola Producer
1982 Blow to the Heart Gianni Amelio Associate producer, co-producer
1982 The Magic Mountain Hans W. Geissendörfer Associate producer, co-producer
1982 Fitzcarraldo Werner Herzog Associate producer
1982 Identification of a Woman Michelangelo Antonioni Associate producer, uncredited
1982 Il buon soldato Franco Brusati Associate producer
1982 Fanny & Alexander Ingmar Bergman Co-producer, uncredited
1983 Danton Andrzej Wajda Associate producer, uncredited
1983 Moon in the Gutter Jean-Jacques Beineix Co-producer, uncredited
1983 Nostalghia Andrei Tarkovsky Executive producer
1983 The House of the Yellow Carpet Carlo Lizzani Associate producer, uncredited
1983 Lontano da dove Francesca Marciano Producer, Executive producer
1983 Benvenuta André Delvaux Co-producer
1983 A Joke of Destiny Lina Wertmüller Co-producer
1983 Fanny och Alexander Ingmar Bergman Co-producer, uncredited, TV mini-series,
1983 E la nave va Federico Fellini Associate producer
1984 Henry IV Marco Bellocchio Co-producer
1984 Good King Dagobert Dino Risi Producer
1984 Desiderio Anna Maria Tatò Producer
1984 Carmen Francesco Rosi Co-producer
1984 Pianoforte Francesca Comencini Producer, debut film of director Francesca Comencini
1985 Juke Box Carlo Carlei, Enzo Civitareale, Sandro De Santis, Antonello Grimaldi, Valerio Jalongo, Daniele Luchetti, Michele Scura Producer, movie of the Gaumont Italia School of cinema
1986 9½ Weeks Adrian Lyne Co-producer
1987 Il mistero del panino assassino Giancarlo Soldi Producer, video
2003 Red Riding Hood Giacomo Cimini Co-executive producer
2009 La fisica dell'acqua Felice Farina Producer
2010 La nuova armata Brancaleone Mario Monicelli Producer, credit only
2011 L'era legale Enrico Caria Producer


  • Love at Twenty (1962)
  • L'età del ferro, TV mini-series, 5 episodes (1965)
  • La lotta dell'uomo per la sua sopravvivenza, TV series, 12 episodes (1970)
  • The World Population, TV documentary (1974)
  • Controsud, supervisor, (2004)

Second Unit Director and Assistant Director

  • General Della Rovere (1959)
  • Furore di vivere (1959)
  • Era notte a Roma (1960)
  • Viva l'Italia (1961)
  • Vanina Vanini (1961)
  • Ro.Go.Pa.G. (1963)
  • Texas, addio (1966)
  • La presa del potere da parte di Luigi XIV (1966)
  • Idea di un'isola (1967)
  • Atti degli apostoli, 5 episodes (1969)
  • Da Gerusalemme a Damasco (1970)


  • L'amore a vent'anni (1962)
  • Idea di un'isola (1967)
  • Rice University (1971)
  • Blaise Pascal (1972)
  • Intervista a Salvador Allende: la forza e la ragione (1973)
  • Cartesius (1974)
  • Concerto per Michelangelo (1977)
  • Beaubourg (1977)


  • In 2002 Luca Sossella ed. publishes Chat Room Roberto Rossellini, a book by Rossellini and Osvaldo Contenti
  • In 2007 Liguori Editore publishes Dal neorealismo alla diffusione della conoscenza, by Rossellini and Pasquale Faccio
  • In 2007 Donzelli Editore publishes Impariamo a conoscere il mondo mussulmano, By Rossellini


  1. " Awards for Love at Twenty". Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  2. El-Assyouti, Mohamed (23 October 2003). "A family business". Al Ahram Weekly Online. Al Ahram. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  3. Ceronetti, Guido (13 November 1974). "I nemici di Israele" [Israel's Foes]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 3. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  4. Madeo, Liliana (4 June 1976). "Una radio per gli altri" [A Radio for the Others]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 7. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  5. m., f. (21 May 1976). "Attori, industriali, alti ufficiali tra i volti nuovi delle elezioni" [Actors, Businessmen, High Ranking Officers among the new Faces of the Elections]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 7. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  6. "Sul rapimento Moro smentita di Rossellini" [Rossellini's Denial on Moro Kidnapping]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. 6 October 1978. p. 1. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  7. Fedi, Giuseppe (10 January 1979). "Fascisti con mitra assaltano a Roma Radio Città Futura: ferite 5 donne" [Fascists assault with machine guns Rome's Radio Città Futura and Wound 5 Women]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 1. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  8. "I capitali della Gaumont per salvare i cinema Eci" [Gaumont's Capital Will Rescue Eci Theaters]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. 11 August 1979. p. 7. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  9. b., e. (17 November 1979). "Scontro Gaumony-distributori per salvare i sessanta cinema Eci" [Fight between Gaumont and Distributors on Saving Sixty Eci Theatres]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 7. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  10. "E l'Agis da Venezia dice 'Costa fin troppo poco'" [And Agis Says from Venice 'It Costs too Little']. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. 7 September 1980. p. 19. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  11. Rossellini, Renzo (7 September 1980). "Non c'è logica nel caro cinema che allontana gli spettatori (le controproposte della Gaumont)" [There is no logic in the expensive cinema that keeps away spectators (The Counterproposals of Gaumont)]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 19. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  12. "Roma con il Fiamma tenta l'esperimento della multisala" [Rome's Fiamma Will Try the Multiplex Test]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. 21 September 1982. p. 24. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  13. Marzolla, Susanna (23 September 1986). "Nasce a Milano il gigante delle multisale" [Miultiplex Giant is born in Milan]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 23. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  14. "Nasce Radio Kabul Libera, voce dei ribelli islamici" [Here comes Radio Free Kabul, Voice of the Islamic Rebels]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. 1 July 1981. p. 4. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  15. Tornabuoni, Lietta (9 September 1981). "'Una voce dall'Afghanistan, popolo fiero'" ['A Voice from Afghanistan, Proud People']. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 1. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  16. Girardet, Edward (29 November 1982). "Radio Free Kabul: Rallying the Afghan Resistance". The Christian Science Monitor. p. 1. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  17. Ruotolo, Guido (10 July 2017). "Il figlio di Roberto Rossellini: 'Le Brigate Rosse provarono ad uccidermi. Aldo Moro e mio padre erano amici'" [The son of Roberto Rossellini: 'The Red Brigades tried to kill me. My father and Aldo Moro were friends'] (in Italian). Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  18. Robiony, Simonetta (15 November 1983). "Crisi alla Gaumont, Rossellini si dimette" [Gaumont's crisis, Rossellini resigns]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 23. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  19. Tornabuoni, Lietta (15 November 1983). "'Tra i miei fiaschi Olmi, Fellini, Wertmüller'" ['Olmi, Fellini, Wertmüller Among my Fiascos']. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. p. 23. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  20. "Incidente, grave Renzo Rossellini" [Incident, Renzo Rossellini's Condition Serious]. La Stampa (in Italian). Turin. 9 December 1984. p. 1. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  21. Hipes, Patrick (10 July 2017). "20th Century Fox Ups Victoria Rossellini Atop Biz & Legal Affairs". Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  22. "Noiret, Mezzogiorno e Placido fratelli nel nuovo film di Rosi". La Stampa. Turin. 19 August 1980. p. 13.
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