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Monday, February 16, 2015

The International Appeal of Francesca Neri

Francesca Neri is Italian by birth but known to audiences all over the world, starring opposite some of the biggest names in the movie making business.  
Born in the northern Italian city of Trento in 1964, Francesca Neri knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in cinema. So she moved to Rome where she studied acting at the famed Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografie. Shortly upon graduating from the Roman film school, she met the talented director, Giuseppe Piccioni, who is still quite prolific in making his contributions to the study and advancement of film in Rome. Most recently, he co-founded Rome's Libreria del Cinema, a bookstore located in the lively neighborhood of Trastevere. The store features books related to cinema along with author signings and events. The destined partnership of Picconi and Neri proved to be very beneficial to the young actress' career. The director gave Neri her first major part in a motion picture and Neri embraced her role as Laura in Piccioni's 1987 coming of age film, "Il grande blek". The film was important for the two filmmakers as it was also the directorial debut for Piccioni. The film won the De Sica Award for the best new Italian film that year, was screened at the Berlin Film Festival and won the Nastro d'Argento, a prestigious award given each year by Sindacato Nazionale dei Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani, the association of Italian film critics.
Neri went on to work with a number of European directors in the 90's including Wilma Labate, Carlos Saura and Pedro Almodóvar. She built a solid foundation of credible, articulate roles that earned her respect and accolades among critics and audiences alike. 
Then in 2001, she took on a role that would change the course of her career. Shot on location in Italy and the United States,  "Hannibal", Ridley Scott's sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs" gave American audiences their first in depth look at the stunning Francesca Neri as she played the role of Allegra Pazzi, the beautiful cultured wife of Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi, played by fellow Italian actor, Giancarlo Giannini. Neri brought an eloquence to the film that even charmed the ruthless Hannibal the cannibal. The grace with which she carries herself and delivers her lines memorizes anyone watching them film and seems to have the same effect on her fellow cast members. She brought her own signature class to the role and was therefore perfectly cast as the high maintenance wife of a simple inspector. There is a light hearted comfortable connection with her onscreen husband, Giancarlo Giannini, so it is a pleasure to watch the two share their scenes.
The film was a huge success and broke box office records in the United States, Australia, Canada and the UK. Although Neri was a hit with audiences and critics on this side of the Atlantic, her role in "Hannibal" was not her first character in an American production. Back in 1990, Neri had a role in the box office disappointment, "Captian America". The film earned mixed reviews, but luckilly she enjoyed much more success with the production of "Hannibal". 

Next, Neri's follow up American production to "Hannibal" was the 2002 film, "Collateral Damage' in which she worked opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. The role offered a new challenge for Neri as she played more of an action character alongside Schwarzenegger. She held her own in the most violent of scenes and showed a brand new range of acting that we hadn't seen from her up to that point.

During the last decade, Neri has worked mostly in Italy with top directors and actors. Her most high profile role was in Pupi Avati's 2008 drama, "Il papá  di Giovanna". The story is about a father's love and support for his daughter under the gravest of circumstances. Neri plays the wife and mother who struggles to hold her family together. Her performance opposite Italy's beloved character actors, Silvio Orlando and Alba Rohrwacher is beautiful and intense as the family is faced with tragedy and heartbreaking choices in the midst of World War II ravaged Italy.  The film won a whole slew of awards in 2008 and 2009, including a Best Actress award for Francesca Neri.

In  2012, Francesca Neri married her longtime boyfriend, actor Claudio Amendola, with whom she has a son. She is currently working with director, Raffaele Verzillo on his new film, "Il Vuoto" (The Void). Shooting begins today, 16 February in Caserta near Naples.
Several of Neri's films are available through Amazon, including Pedro Almodóvar's "Live Flesh", "Outrage", co-starring Antonio Banderas and "Collateral Damage".

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