Lina Wertmüller, first woman to score Best Director Oscar nomination, dies at 93
Lina Wertmüller, the first woman to score a Best Director nomination at the Academy Awards, died on Thursday in Italy. She was 93.
Wertmüller’s death was reported in the Italian press. According to a friend, the writer and director died “peacefully at home, next to her daughter and loved ones.”
Born in Rome, Wertmüller claimed she was expelled from dozens of Catholic schools as a child and developed an early love of comic books (especially “Flash Gordon”) and Soviet theater. Through friends, she was introduced to legendary film director Federico Fellini who quickly became her mentor.
Fellini hired Wertmüller as an assistant director on “8½” in 1963, the same year in which she made her directorial feature debut with “The Basilisks,” which went on to win her her first award for Best Director at the Locarno film festival.
In 1972 she made her Cannes debut with “The Seduction of Mimi,” a satirization of the male libido, returning the following year with “Love and Anarchy.”
In 1975 she premiered her film “Swept Away,” which was re-made 27 years later by Guy Ritchie and Madonna. While Wertmüller’s original received critical acclaim, winning a slew of awards including one for Best Director from the New York Film Critics Circle, the re-make was panned by critics and flopped at the box office.
Her Academy Award nomination soon followed for her film “Seven Beauties,” about an Italian soldier’s experience during World War II. Although she lost to John G. Avildsen for “Rocky,” her nomination made history and paved the way for eventual winners such as Kathryn Bigelow who won in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker” and Chloe Zhao who won in 2021 for “Nomadland.”