Marina Cicogna, Italy’s pioneering female film producer known for her work with renowned directors such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Franco Zeffirelli, and Elio Petri, including Petri’s Academy Award-winning film “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion,” has passed away at the age of 89. She died on November 4 at her residence in Rome after a prolonged battle with an unspecified form of cancer, as reported by the Italian news agency ANSA.
Marina Cicogna was not only a significant figure in the film industry but also had deep connections to the Venice Film Festival, which was founded by her grandfather, Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata. Born in Rome on May 29, 1934, she had a remarkable upbringing, attending high school in Italy and later graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. During her time in the United States, she formed a friendship with Barbara Warner, the daughter of Jack Warner, and established connections with Hollywood.
In 1966, at the age of 32, Marina Cicogna made her foray into the film industry by taking over the family-owned distributor, Euro International Films. Her impact was quickly evident, as in 1967, she had three films featured at the Venice Film Festival, including the Golden Lion-winning “Belle de Jour” by Luis Buñuel.
With the success of her film choices, Cicogna ventured into film production, producing notable works such as Antonio Leonviola’s “The Young Tigers” (1968), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Teorema” (1968), “Medea” (1969) with Maria Callas, and Elio Petri’s psychological thriller “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion” (1970), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the time.
Marina Cicogna, who was openly bisexual, maintained a relationship with Florinda Bolkan for about two decades during the 1970s and 1980s. Her contributions to the film industry also included productions like “A Man to Respect” starring Kirk Douglas, Franco Zeffirelli’s Oscar-nominated “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” (1974), and Vittorio De Sica’s “Lo Chiameremo Andrea” with Nino Manfredi and Mariangela Melato.
Although she stopped producing movies after the mid-1970s, Marina Cicogna remained a prominent figure in the Italian film community, engaged in photography and well-regarded as a jet-setter.
In recognition of her remarkable career, Marina Cicogna received a lifetime achievement award at Italy’s David di Donatello Awards in May. A documentary titled “Marina Cicogna – Life and All the Rest,” directed by Andrea Bettinetti, celebrated her career and screened at the Rome Film Fest in 2021.
Marina Cicogna is survived by her partner of more than 30 years, Benedetta Gardona.