Marina Cicogna, the first Italian female producer and aristocrat, passes away at 89

Marina Cicogna, whose films won Oscars and Palme d'Ors, dies, her life reflecting a blend of aristocracy and artistic revolution.

The Italian film industry mourns the loss of Marina Cicogna, the esteemed countess who carved her name as the “first great Italian film producer” and one of Europe’s cinematic powerhouses. Cicogna, who passed away at her home in Rome at 89 after a long illness, left an indelible mark on the silver screen and beyond.

Her lineage is traced back to the Cicogna Mozzoni and Volpi di Misurata dynasties, embedding her deeply in aristocracy yet positioning her as a rebellious icon of style and nonconformity.

Born on May 29, 1934, in Rome to noble parentage, Marina Cicogna’s life was intertwined with cinema from her childhood. She encountered the movie business’s glitter at 15, meeting David O. Selznick in Venice. After her education, which included stints at Sarah Lawrence College and a photography school, her path led her directly into the arms of Hollywood, where friendships with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall bloomed.

Triumphs in Cinema: Venice, Hollywood and Beyond

Her family’s foundation underpins Cicogna’s legacy in cinema—the Venice Film Festival, conceived by her grandfather, Count Giuseppe Volpi, in 1932. She would later champion the Golden Lion-winning “Bella di giorno” by Luis Buñuel, a film that others hesitated to back. Her company, Euro International Films, became a conduit for foreign and independent cinema in Italy, heralding box-office successes and award-winning masterpieces.

Notably, Cicogna was celebrated and, at times, scrutinized for her personal life, which was as groundbreaking as her professional one. She was the first woman in Italy to openly have a same-sex relationship, sharing two decades with actress Florinda Bolkan and, later, a long partnership with Benedetta Gardona. Cicogna, who also had high-profile relationships with men, eschewed convention in all aspects of her life, advocating authenticity over appearance.

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Cicogna’s cinematic endeavors reaped international acclaim, including an Oscar for Elio Petri’s “Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto” and a Palme d’Or for “La classe operaia va in Paradiso.” Her career, dotted with cinematic milestones, culminated in the documentary “Marina Cicogna – La vita e tutto il resto” and her autobiography, “Ancora Spero,” celebrating an extraordinary life in cinema.

Remembering an Icon

As the film world reflects on Cicogna’s passing, her story is not just one of artistic triumph but also personal courage and societal change. Her accolades, while few, included the Grand Officer of Merit of the Italian Republic and a David di Donatello Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her friendships with giants of the art world and her candid views on life and love leave behind a narrative of a woman who was as much a force of nature in her personal affairs as she was in her films.

Marina Cicogna’s death marks the end of a chapter in Italian cinema. Her life, a blend of aristocratic privilege, artistic rebellion, and bold romance, leaves a legacy that will resonate through the annals of film history and the many lives she touched.