Lorenza Mazzetti

Filmmaker, painter, artist

1926 - 2020

Italy, United States

persona fisica

Lorenza Mazzetti was born in Rome on July 26th, 1926. Her mother died shortly after giving birth to her and her twin sister Paola, the two sisters were given to the care of her aunt, who was married to Robert Einstein, cousin of the German physicist Albert Einstein. During World War II, the Einstein family would be slain by a party of Nazi soldiers — Lorenza and Paola Mazzetti would survive the ordeal, but the experience would influence Lorenza Mazzetti’s artistic production for her entire life.

At the beginning of the 1950s, Mazzetti moved to London and studied at Slade School of Fine Art. Between 1952 and 1953 she filmed K, a short inspired by The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka — the film would anticipate the Free Cinema Movement Manifesto, that would be signed by Lindsay Anderson, Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, and Lorenza Mazzetti in 1956. Mazzetti’s filmmaking career was comparatively short — in just over ten years she also filmed Together (1965), I cattivi vanno in paradiso (1959), and the documentary I misteri di Roma (1963).

Mazzetti would then turn to literature — Il cielo cade was her first published novel and the plot paralleled her personal experience as a child. Published by Garzanti in 1961 and winner of the Viareggio Prize, the novel was translated into English by Marguerite Waldeman and published in New York by David McKay Company in 1962 under the title The Sky Falls. Her first novel was then followed by the books Con Rabbia (1963) — translated into English by Isabel Quigly, and published in New York by David McKay Company in 1965 under the title Rage — Uccidi il padre e la madre (1969), and Il Teatro dell’io: l’onirodramma. I bambini drammatizzano a scuola i loro sogni (1975). Reviews of Il cielo cade on the «Times Literary Supplement» praised Mazzetti’s concise but effective writing style in dealing with a delicate topic such as racial persecutions. Con rabbia received equally positive reviews — Sergio Pacifici, on «Books Abroad» (Vol. 38 No. 3, 1964), praised the author for her use of a simple yet introspective language.

After spending her life at the service of the arts and to keep the memory of the atrocities of World War II alive, Lorenza Mazzetti died in Rome on January 4th, 2020, aged 92.

Media gallery


Anderson, Lindsay. The first Free Cinema programme – promotional brochure. University of Stirling https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/community/30002423

Ansa. «Lorenza Mazzetti torna nell’“Estate” di Ali Smith» https://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/cultura/libri/2020/09/30/libri-lorenza-mazzetti-torna-nell-estate-di-ali-smith_e466c4ea-07a0-4021-a8ef-92c18ec0bf69.html

Boettcher, Shelley. «Lorenza Mazzetti, Wartime Survivor and Seminal Filmmaker, Dies at 92». The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/16/arts/lorenza-mazzetti-dead.html

Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. «Lorenza Mazzetti, l’equilibrista sul filo della storia» https://www.fondazionecsc.it/evento/lorenza-mazzetti-l%C2%92equilibrista-sul-filo-della-storia/

Dupin, Christoph. «Free Cinema» screenonline http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/444789/

Healey, Robin. Italian Literature since 1900 in English Translation: An Annotated Bibliography, 1929-2016. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

Pacifici, Sergio. «Con Rabbia by Lorenza Mazzetti». Books Abroad, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Summer, 1964), pp. 304-305

Scholes, Lucy. «Re-Covered: The Sky Falls by Lorenza Mazzetti» The Paris Review https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2020/01/07/re-covered-the-sky-falls-by-lorenza-mazzetti/

The Guardian. «Dreams were made of this» https://www.theguardian.com/film/2001/mar/22/artsfeatures

Author Eleonora Bellini