Michele Placido is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to cinema. He is a celebrated movie star and respected director whose career has spanned over five decades with countless films and international blockbusters.
Placido’s family origins go back to Rionero in Vulture, a town located in the northern part of Basilicata. My family is also from that town and I have visited several times. Furthermore, Michele Placido is a descendent of the infamous bandit and soldier, Carmine Crocco- a fierce man who fought for equal rights and privileges for the people of the south.
Born in 1946, Placido actually grew up in the Puglia region near Foggia and then studied film in Rome at the famous Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. He also studied with Silvio D'Amico at the Academy of Dramatic Arts, and made his acting debut in the play, “A Midsummer's Night Dream” in the late 60's. Shortly thereafter, he got into television and cinema and has been non-stop ever since. He was fortunate to begin his career under the direction of several cinematic geniuses like Mario Monicelli, Marco Bellocchio and Francesco Rosi. With guidance like that, it's no wonder he rose to the top of his field. Just seven years after his stage debut, Michele Placido won a David di Donatello for his work as an actor in Marco Bellocchio's "Marcia trionfale."
Placido works on project after project and has new releases practically every year. The year of 2006 was memorable as he had roles in two international hits with Mario Monicelli's "Le rose del deserto" and Giuseppe Tornatore's "La sconosciuta" - the emotionally charged story of, Irina, (Kseniya Rappoport) a young woman who escapes the sex trade in her native Ukraine and starts a brand new life in an Italian village, working as a maid to an affluent young family. Michele Placido completely transforms himself into one of the most hated villains you will ever experience onscreen. His character, Muffa, is Irina's controlling, abusive pimp who makes her life a living hell. The outstanding performances given by Placido and Rappoport are reasons enough to watch this film.
|With Michele Placido at the 2016 Festa del Cinema di Roma|
Michele Placido's talents seem to run in the family. His daughter, Violante is a movie star and singer. Her mother is actress Simonetta Stefanelli, who is best known on this side of the Atlantic for her role as Michael Corleone's doomed Sicilian wife in “The Godfather”. Violante followed in her mother’s footsteps and co-starred in a big-budget American project with George Clooney in the 2010 film, "The American".
If you’re anywhere near Matera or are able to make the trip, I imagine that Friday’s performance will be a powerful one, and shouldn’t be missed. For more information about the event, check out Matera Inside.