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Ermanno Olmi, ‘Tree of Wooden Clogs’ Director and Palme d’Or Winner, Dies at 86

Martin Scorsese remembers the Italian filmmaker known for "Il Posto," "The Legend of Holy Drinker," and "The Profession of Arms."

Ermanno Olmi

Ermanno Olmi

Flavio Lo Scalzo/AGF/REX/Shutterstock

Ermanno Olmi, the Italian director best known for winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1978 with his drama “The Tree of Wooden Clogs,” has died at 86. The director passed away in Asiago, Northern Italy, not far from where he ran the Ipotesi Cinema film school since the 1980s (via Variety). Olmi had reportedly been ill for some time, but the exact cause of death is not known at this time.

Olmi received his breakthrough with his 1961 drama “Il Posto,” an Italian Neorealism riff that made him a name at the Venice Film Festival and won him the best director prize at Italy’s David di Donatello Awards. “Wooden Clogs” took home the Palme in 1978, in addition to winning the César Award for best foreign film. Olmi’s other notable work is “The Legend of the Holy Drinker,” starring Rutger Hauer, which won the Golden Lion at the 1988 Venice Film Festival.

Director Martin Scorsese issued his condolences today in a statement that addressed the profound influence the late director had on his generation of filmmakers:

“Ermanno Olmi was one of the last of the great filmmakers of the 60s. I will never forget the first time I saw his pictures ‘Il Posto’ and ‘I Fidanzati,’ which were released around the same time in the United States but made two years apart. I was truly astonished by both, and I went back to see them again and again. Their effect on me and on so many others of my generation and after, from all over the world, was incalculable. Olmi remained an absolutely individual artist, from those early pictures to the remarkable ‘Tree of Wooden Clogs’ all the way up to the wild freedom of the last films, like ‘Singing Behind Screens’ and ‘One Hundred Nails.’ I will miss Olmi the artist and Olmi himself, because he was as warm and human as his pictures.”

Olmi is survived by his wife, “Il Posto” star Loredana Olmi, and his children Elisabetta, Fabio, and Andrea.

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