Gillo Pontecorvo (1919-2006) was an Italian film-maker and journalist best known for his much lauded masterpiece The Battle of Algiers (1966), for which he also won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1966, and also nominated for the Academy Award in 1968 for the same film.
He grew up in a Jewish family and when anti-Semitism was on the rise in the fascist Italy of the 1930s, Pontecorvo fled to Paris in 1938. There, he became involved in the film world, and worked as an assistant to Dutch documentary maker Joris Ivens.
After returning to Italy to join the Italian Communist Party and fight in the anti-fascist resistance during World War II, he made the definitive move from journalism into the film world. He bought a 16mm camera and made mostly self-funded documentaries, until his debut feature The Wide Blue Road (1957), and Kapò (1961).
Next to directing films, he also wrote screenplays and composed film scores and in 2000 he was honoured with the Pietro Bianchi Award at the Venice Film Festival. Pontecorvo passed away in Rome in 2006, at the age of 86.