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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

Ermanno Olmi (24 July 1931 – 7 May 2018)[1][2][3] was an Italian film director and screenwriter best known for directing Il Posto (1961) and The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1977), which won the Palme d'Or. Throughout his career Olmi blended Italian neorealism with Christian humanism, with many of his films following humble characters through the spiritual trials of harsh conditions.

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Early life

Olmi was born to a working-class Catholic family in Bergamo, in the Lombardy region in northern Italy, and raised in nearby Treviglio.[4][5][6]

When Olmi was three years old, his family moved to Milan, where his parents found work with the utility company Edison-Volta.[4] At age 16, Olmi began working there as a messenger. Olmi was initially interested in architecture, but was inspired to pursue cinema by the works of Roberto Rossellini. He began taking art classes and convinced Edison-Volta to start a documentary division. As head of the new division, Olmi made as many as 40 corporate documentaries.[5][2][4]

Olmi's first feature film, Time Stood Still began as a corporate documentary about a hydroelectric dam.[4]


Olmi's first scripted film was the acclaimed Il Posto, which follows a young man entering corporate life. Parts of the story were drawn from Olmi's experiences working in Milan. The film starred non-professional actor Loredana Detto, who Olmi would later marry.[4]

Following from his humble start in corporate documentaries, Olmi typically helmed minimal productions, often writing, directing, filming, and editing the films himself.[7]

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.

In 1982, Olmi founded Ipotesi Cinema, a film school in the village of Bassano del Grappa.[8]

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


David di Donatello

Nastro d'Argento



Olmi has been the subject of many retrospectives. In 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 Cineteca Nazionale and the "Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Vienna".[9]

Also in 2019, Film at Lincoln Center honored Olmi with a two-week retrospective. The series was co-produced by Istituto Luce Cinecittà and presented in association with the Ministry of Culture of Italy.[10][11][12] The films then traveled to Cleveland, where the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque hosted a seven-part retrospective.[13]

In 2008 he received the Honorary Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.[14] He had turned down the same award in 2004, feeling that it would have signified a premature end to his career.[3]

Personal life

In 1959, Olmi moved to the Asiago plateau, where he would live for the rest of his life.[4] Olmi led a relatively simple life away from the spotlight of the film industry, only rarely sitting for interviews and keeping no copies of his films. Olmi reportedly hesitated to travel by air.[7]

In 1963 Olmi married Loredana Detto, who had played Antonietta Masetti in his film Il Posto (1961).[15] The couple had 3 children; Fabio, Elisabetta, and Andrea.[3]

Olmi died on 7 May 2018 in Asiago. His death was mourned by then Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni as well as director Martin Scorsese.[3]


  1. ^ Lutto nel cinema, è morto Ermanno Olmi (in Italian)
  2. ^ a b c Lane, John Francis (May 7, 2018). "Ermanno Olmi obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Bartlett, Rhett (7 May 2018). "Ermanno Olmi, Palme d'Or-Winning Director of 'The Tree of Wooden Clogs,' Dies at 86". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f 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.
  5. ^ a b "Ermanno Olmi – biography – The Neorealism". Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  6. ^ 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...
  7. ^ a b Young, Deborah (March–April 2001). "on earth as it is in heaven". Film Comment. 37 (2): 56–60, 62. JSTOR 43578417. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  8. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (7 May 2018). "Ermanno Olmi, 'Tree of Wooden Clogs' Director, Dies at 86". Variety. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  9. ^ "Filmmuseum – Programmarchiv". (in German). Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Ermanno Olmi". Film at Lincoln Center. Retrieved 2020-05-27.
  11. ^ Scott, A.O. (12 June 2019). "How Ermanno Olmi Found Grace in the Daily Labors of Italians". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  12. ^ Paternò, Cristiana (6 December 2019). "Ermanno Olmi retrospective in New York". Cinecitta News. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  13. ^ "Italian film series "Sacred Duties: Films by Ermanno Olmi"". Retrieved 2020-05-27.
  14. ^ "'Maestro of Italian cinema' Ermanno Olmi dies". 7 May 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Ermanno Olmi: moglie, figli e vita privata del regista". News Mondo (in Italian). 7 May 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 8 May 2024, at 21:21
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