Italian Producer Massimo Cristaldi, Who Shepherded ‘Sicilian Ghost Story,’ Dies at 66
11th April 2022

Italian producer Massimo Cristaldi, who as a production manager worked with masters such as Federico Fellini and Francesco Rosi before setting up his own company and shepherding films including prizewinning drama “Sicilian Ghost Story,” has died. He was 66.

Cristaldi’s death was announced over the weekend by his Rome-based company Cristaldi Pictures in a statement that did not specify the cause.

Born in 1956, Massimo Cristaldi was the only son of prominent producer Franco Cristaldi, the triple Oscar-winner who made Pietro Germi’s “Divorce Italian Style,” Federico Fellini’s “Amarcord” and Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso.”

In 1974 Massimo Cristaldi started cutting his teeth in the film business first as a production assistant and eventually, starting in the 1980s, becoming a line producer on many of his father’s productions, working with Fellini, Rosi, Tornatore, and many other Italian cinema greats.

After Franco Cristaldi’s death in 1992, he took over management of the Cristaldi Film library that now  comprises roughly 250 titles, while also setting up his own separate Cristaldi Pictures shingle.

His first two productions as a full-fledged producer were Italo-Israeli pic “The Italians are Coming” (1996), a love triangle drama directed by Eyal Halfon and starring Franco Nero and Yona Elian, and, the same year, “Passage to Paradise,” a screwball romance starring Julie Harris and French actor Tcheky Karyo, executive produced by David Bowie.

Cristaldi more recently discovered Sicilian directorial duo Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza and together with producer Fabrizio Mosca shepherded first their splashy debut “Salvo,” about a Mafia hitman who falls in love with his target’s blind sister. Then, in tandem with Indigo Film (“The Great Beauty”), Cristaldi co-produced the duo’s followup “Sicilian Ghost Story,” another non-conventional Mafia pic that mixed fairy tale tropes with the harsh reality of a mob kidnapping and was released by Strand Releasing in the U.S. after winning Italy’s David di Donatello award for top adapted script in 2018.

Massimo Cristaldi, who was a member of the European Film Academy, headed Italy’s producers’ association between 1997 and 2002.

Survivors include his wife Simona Cristaldi.

 

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