ROME (AP) — Filmmaker Carlo Lizzani, a much-lauded protagonist of Italian Neorealism, has died, Italian state news media reported Saturday. He was 91.
There was an outpouring of condolences after his death was reported, including from President Giorgio Napolitano, who knew Lizzani for decades and honored him for his contributions to "cinema, to culture and to the democratic development of our country."
The state RAI news agency and the ANSA news agency said Lizzani died after a fall from the third-floor balcony of his home in Rome and that authorities were investigating whether it was a suicide.
Lizzani started out as a film critic, then as a writer, getting writing credits for Roberto Rossellini's 1948 "Germany Year Zero" and as the screenwriter for Giuseppe De Santis' 1950 film "Bitter Rice," which earned him an Oscar nomination.
He collaborated with the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Marco Bellocchio, Bernardo Bertolucci and Pier Paolo Pasolini.
The Academy of Italian Cinema awarded him best director for his 1968 film "The Violent Four" about a manhunt for bank robbers, and best screenwriter for the 1996 film "Celluloide" about the making of Rossellini's masterpiece "Rome, citta' aperta."
He directed the Venice Film Festival from 1979-1982, and was a member of the jury of the Berlin Film Festival in 1994.
Paolo Baratta, the president of the Biennale, whose components include the Venice Film Festival as well as arts, dance and architecture sections, praised Lizzani's efforts.
"The Biennale is crying on the day of Carlo Lizzani's death," Baratta said. "He knew how to give the festival new energy. He knew how to create a nucleus of young students and experts that would represent in future years the true elite. The world of Italian cinema owes him a lot. "