From the late 1960s through the early 1970s, the writer/director Elio Petri was considered one of the major figures of Italian cinema. Petri began his career as a film critic and assistant to the neorealist filmmaker Giuseppe De Santis before developing his own style, distinguished by dry, caustic humor, political outrage, and an enthusiasm for the unexpected. His stiletto satires—Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) and The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971), for instance—may have cut into modern Italian society, but his subjects, like those of Voltaire, were the inconstancy of a civil society and the unpredictability of human behavior. This retrospective, presented by Cinecittà Holding, includes ten of the 11 features Petri completed before his death, in 1982, at the age of 53.
Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film and Media, MoMA, and Antonio Monda, Professor of Italian Cinema, NYU; presented by Cinecittà Holding.