By Roberta Tabanelli, 2020
Associate Professor of Italian
University of Missouri
Antonietta De Lillo (Naples, 1960—) is a film director, film producer, photographer, and journalist. After earning a B.A. in Film Studies and Journalism at the University of Bologna, she worked as a freelance photographer for various newspapers and magazines in Naples. In 1982 she moved to Rome and started working in film as a still photographer and camera assistant. Her first two feature-length films, Una casa in bilico (1986) and Matilda (1990), were co-directed with Giorgio Magliulo. Matilda, which is set in Naples, is one of the earliest of a series of innovative films produced in Naples in the 1990s, including Vito e gli altri (Capuano, 1991), Morte di un matematico napoletano (Martone, 1992), and Libera (Corsicato, 1993), which prompted critics to talk about a “Neapolitan school.”
In 1992 the De Lillo/Magliulo duo co-directed the documentary AngeloNovi, fotografo di scena, after which their artistic alliance came to an end. As a solo director, however, De Lillo continued to make “video-portraits” throughout the 1990s. Between twenty and forty minutes in length and often experimental in style, these portraits cover a variety of subjects, including the horror film director Lucio Fulci (La notte americana del Dr. Lucio Fulci), the poet Alda Merini (Ogni sedia ha il suo rumore), the Neapolitan folk-combat musical group ‘E Zezi (Viento ‘e terra), the Trieste-born treasure hunter Claudio Bonifacio (Hispaniola), and the couple, with transgender husband, interviewed in Promessi sposi. With these video-portraits, at a time when the documentary film was not a popular choice among young Italian filmmakers, De Lillo precedes a group of women directors, such as Wilma Labate, Alina Marazzi, and Costanza Quatriglio, who successfully emerged in the documentary genre a decade later.
Racconti di Vittoria (1995) presents a hybrid form between fiction and documentary with three visually and narratively different monologues centered around the theme of death. In 1997 De Lillo co-directed (with Jacopo Quadri and Patrizio Esposito) the documentary Saharawi, voci distanti dal mare and contributed to the Neapolitan omnibus film I vesuviani (Capuano, Corsicato, De Lillo, Incerti, Martone) with the segment “Maruzzella,” which depicts the relation between a transvestite and a female viewer of pornographic films.
De Lillo’s two subsequent feature-length films focus on Naples. Non è giusto (2001) tells of the friendship of two teens within the instabilities of their families. Il resto di niente (2004), adapted from Enzo Striano’s novel with the same title, shows the short-lived Neapolitan Republic at the end of the eighteenth century, focusing especially on the Portuguese noblewoman Eleonora Pimental de Fonseca. Il resto di niente, the most known and most critically acclaimed of De Lillo’s films, won a David di Donatello—the Italian equivalent of the Academy Awards—for Best Costumes.
In 2000-2001 De Lillo created various documentaries on Naples, the Campania region, and the Rome area for the educational program La storia siamo noi (We Are History) on the Italian public broadcasting service RAI. The three parts on Naples—on Italsider in Bagnoli, the “Vele” in Scampia, and the Quartieri Spagnoli—have been collected in the 2003 Periferie di Napoli.
In 2008 De Lillo was one of the 30 Italian filmmakers who contributed to the anthology film All Human Rights for All. Each segment embodies one of 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; De Lillo filmed “Art. 20.” The art. 20 of the UDHR recognizes that (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association. In her story, De Lillo shows a mother and a daughter who are stuck in traffic because of a student protest; while waiting for the rally to end, they discuss their marriages to men with shady connections.
Following the two video-portraits La pazza della porta accanto. Conversazione con Alda Merini (2013) and Let’s go (2015) on photographer Luca Musella, De Lillo wrote, directed, and produced the “fantasy portrait” Il signor Ropteper (2017), which stars Neapolitan actress Marina Confalone as Mr. Ropteper. This latest portrait and De Lillo’s first one, Promessi Sposi, are presented together in the DVD Metamorfosi napoletane (Neapolitan metamorphosis).
Antonietta De Lillo appears as herself, along with a number of other Italian documentarians, in Segni particolari: documentarista (2013), directed by Christian Carmosino, and in Registe (2014) by Diana Dell’Erba.
In addition to her multi-faceted filmmaking and her interest in hybrid forms of narration, De Lillo is also an active producer. She played a primary role in the promotion and distribution of the “Neapolitan school” films as co-founder of the production companies AnGio Film and Megaris. Today she continues production activity with Marechiaro Film, which she founded in 2010. Through Marechiaro, De Lillo has launched the innovative idea of film partecipato, a “participated,” collective form of digital cinema that aims at re-creating historical memory through personal archival footage.
Addonizio, A., G. Carrara, R. Chiesi, E. De Simone, R. Lippi, E. Premuda. G. Roncaglia (1997). Loro di Napoli. Il nuovo cinema napoletano 1986-1997. Palermo: Edizioni della Battaglia..
Bianchi, Alberto and Dagmar Reichardt, eds (2014). Letteratura e cinema. Florence: Cesati.
Brindisi, Angela (2020). “Antonietta De Lillo.” M. Gieri and D. Santeramo (eds.), XX Century Italian Filmmakers, Rome: UniversItalia. 209-213.
Brogi, Daniela (2016). “Viaggio in Italia. Il cinema di Antonietta De Lillo.” Le parole e le cose. http://www.leparoleelecose.it/?p=22344&. Accessed 5 July 2020.
Luciano, Bernadette, and Susanna Scarparo (2013). “An Interview with Antonietta De Lillo.” https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/reframit/2/. Accessed 12 June 2020.
MarechiaroFilm, homepage. https://www.marechiarofilm.it/it. Accessed 12 June 2020.
Marlow-Mann, Alex (2011). The New Neapolitan Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Mosso, Luca (1996). “Un gioco straordinario. Intervista a Antonietta De Lillo.” Cineforum 357: 24-25.
Roberto, Bruni (2005). “La vertigine del tempo.” Filmcritica 55: 238-241.
Sanna, Adele (2012). “ ‘Essere bambini fino alla fine.’ Il resto di niente di Enzo Striano e Antonietta De Lillo.” Annali d’Italianistica, 30: 213-225.
Tabanelli, Roberta (2011). “An Unstable Body: The Cinema of Antonietta De Lillo.” Studies in European Cinema 8.2: 89-100.
Zagarrio, Vito (2012). Conversazione tra Anita Trivelli e Antonietta De Lilla, Università Roma Tre
1986 Una casa in bilico (An Unstable House, AKA Tottering in the Dark), co-directed with Giorgio Magliulo
1990 Matilda, co-directed with Giorgio Magliulo
1995 Racconti di Vittoria (Vittoria’s Tale)
2001 Non è giusto (It’s Not Fair)
2004 Il resto di niente (The Remains of Nothing)
1997 “Maruzzella,” segment in I Vesusiani (The Vesuvians)
2008 “Art. 20,” segment in All Human Rights for All
2017 Il signor Ropteper (Mr. Ropteper)
1992 AngeloNovi, fotografo di scena (AngeloNovi, Still Photographer), co-directed with Giorgio Magliulo
1993 Promessi sposi (The Betrothed)
1994 La notte americana del Dr. Lucio Fulci (Dr. Lucio Fulci’s American Night, AKA Fulci: Day for Night)
1995 Ogni sedia ha il suo rumore (Every Chair Has its Own Sound)
1996 Viento ‘e terra (Wind from the Earth)
1996 Operai (Workers)
1996 “Peter Del Monte,” segment in Ritratti d’autore (Authorial Portraits)–Season 2 (RAI, by multiple filmmakers)
1997 Hispaniola. Ritratto di Claudio Bonifacio (Hispaniola. Portrait of Claudio Bonifacio)
1997 Saharawi, voci distanti dal mare (Saharawi, Voices Far from the Sea), co-directed with Jacopo Quadri and Patrizio Esposito
1998 ‘O sole mio
1999 ‘O cinema
2000 La terra di lavoro del Casertano (Caserta’s Work Area)
2000 Il parco nazionale del Cilento (The Cilento National Park)
2000 L’Irpinia a venti anni dal terremoto (Irpinia, Twenty Years after the Earthquake)
2001 L’area industriale di Cassino (Cassino’s Industrial Area)
2001 Il litorale romano (Rome’s Beaches)
2001 Il pendolarismo (Commuting)
2002 Pianeta Tonino. Incontro con Tonino Guerra (Tonino’s World. Meeting Tonino Guerra)
2003 Periferie di Napoli (Neapolitan Outskirts)
2004 Backstage de Il resto di niente (The Making of The Remains of Nothing)
2013 La pazza della porta accanto. Conversazione con Alda Merini (The Madwoman Next Door. Conversation with Alda Merini)
2015 Let’s go
Film partecipato (idea, production)
2010-11 Il pranzo di Natale (Christmas Dinner)
2012-15 Oggi insieme domani anche. Storie d’amore e di separazione ai nostri tempi. (Together Today and Tomorrow too. Stories of Love and Separation in Our Timed)
2017-20 L’uomo e la bestia (The Man and the Beast)
2013 Segni particolari: documentarista (Particular signs: Documentary Filmmaker) by Christian Carmosino
2014 Registe (Women Filmmakers) by Diana Dell’Erba
Per citare questa bionota:
Tabanelli, Roberta (2020): «Antonietta De Lillo» Gynocine Project, Barbara Zecchi, ed., https://www.gynocine.com/antonietta-de-lillo-bio