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Saturday, November 8, 2014

7 Days - 7 Women: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi

On Day 5 of our week-long series, 7 Days - 7 Women, in which we are profiling seven strong, talented women working as filmmakers, writers or visual artists, we take a look at the career of actress and director, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is a familiar face and respected actress in Italy. Until now, Americans haven't had the chance to see her work. But the tides are changing and Bruni Tedeschi is slowly but surely making her way to North American shores.

Born in Torino in 1964, Bruni Tedeschi comes from a talented, affluent family. Her sister is the model, actress, singer and former first lady of France, Carla Bruni. Her mother, Marisa Borini is a concert pianist and her father, Alberto Bruni Tedeschi is a classical composer, while her grandfather, Virginio Bruni Tedeschi, founded the giant Italian tire manufacturing company CEAT in the 1920's. Bruni Tedeschi left Torino at a young age and grew up in France. Her family left Italy in the 70's to escape the kidnapping threat during that the time by the Red Brigades. The kidnappings were actually the subject of Gabriele Salvatores 2003 film, Io non ho paura (I'm Not Scared) in which the child of a wealthy Northern family was abducted and hidden in the south until his family paid a hefty ransom.

Read my profile on Carla Bruni

Bruni Tedeschi has worked on both sides of the camera, as an actress and as a director. She is very private about her personal life and has been known to get up and walk out of an interview if a journalist pursues questions unrelated to the current movie she is promoting. However that tone seemed to change with her 2007 film, A Castle in Italy. The story is a personal tale which recounts difficult moments in her life, including her devoted relationship to her brother, who passed away in 2006 from complications associated with AIDS, her own struggles in wanting a child but being unable to conceive, giving up the last memory of her deceased father and the pressure of her family's wealth, especially when things aren't always what they seem. The film won awards at film festivals all over the world, including the Prix Spécial du Jury at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.

Read about her directorial effort that screened in New York

A scene from "Il capitale umano"
Speaking of competition, this year she has another film in competition, perhaps the biggest competition of all: the Oscar. Her latest blockbuster, Paolo Virzì’s Il capitale umano (Human Capital) is Italy's submission for the Academy Awards, and  premiered to a sold-out theater earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Hailed by critics, the film spotlights the contemporary Italian family and the emphasis on social status and net worth. Based on Stephen Amidon’s novel, the story follows two families whose lives are intertwined by an automobile accident. The film earned honors in the festival's World Narrative Competition with top prize for Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film going to Bruni Tedeschi for her portrayal of Carla Bernaschi. Il capitale umano has had a whirlwind of international distribution and is currently making its way through film festivals throughout the world.

A scene from Viva la libertà
Her 2013 film, Viva la libertà has just been distributed in the United States. The comedy/drama directed by Roberto Andò stars Toni Servillo of Oscar Winner, The Great Beauty. It's a thought-provoking film with great dialogue and comedy. It will make you laugh one minute and reflect on your life the next. Bruni Tedeschi plays the role of an ex-love that offers the lead character refuge from the pressure of a public political campaign. It's a beautiful tale bringing together the past and the present. The unofficial North American premier took place in June at Lincoln Center's annual film series Open Roads: New Italian Cinema. It was a crowd-pleaser, and Roberto Andò was on hand for a Q&A session after the film. It has won a bunch of awards including the Nastro d'Argento and the David di Donatello for Best Script and the David di Donatello for Best Supporting Actor, Valerio Mastandrea.

Check out my interview with Valerio Mastandrea

Bruni Tedeschi is known for her raw, passionate style of acting. That's what makes her a hit in both Italy and France. Her dramatic roles are unique to the French because their style of acting is more refined than that of the Italians. She goes back and forth between French and Italian productions and has won awards for her work in both countries. 

7 days, 7 women
Veronica De Laurentiis
Gina Lollobrigida
Vicki Vasilopoulos
Maria Sole Tognazzi
Antonella Cappuccio
Sabrina Impacciatore

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