In collaboration with “Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia - Cineteca Nazionale”
Taken from Renata Viganò’s novel (1949), Agnese, an illiterate laundress from Emilia region lives in silence beside Paolo Palita, almost immobilized, but still an unadulterated Marxist who leads a clandestine political life. The Germans take away Agnese’s husband who dies in an air raid during his deportation to Germany. As a consequence, Agnese decides to join the partisan guerrillas, an experience that also emancipates her as a woman. After killing a German with the butt of her rifle, she joins a group of partisans, becoming its vivandier as well as the “mother” figure. Although illiterate, Mom Agnese demonstrates balance and common sense and little by little her comrades entrust her with important organisation tasks. She becomes a courier, and what’s more some cases are quite often solved thanks to her timid observations. When, during the last hard winter a group of partisans is betrayed and killed by Germans hidden along the route that should take them beyond the lines, Agnese disobeys her Boss and hides the survivors at her place: in this way she risks expulsion, but is readmitted to the group. While travelling to a mission rendezvous she is stopped at a station block. A fellow officer of the German killed by the Agnese recognises her and kills her on spot.
He was born in Genoa in 1930. At the beginning of his career he was mainly an actor appearing in Achtung! Banditi! (1951), Ai margini della metropoli (1952), Cronache di poveri amanti (1954), Il momento più bello (1957) and L'assassino (1961).
His debut film as a director was with Tiro al piccione in 1962. In 1964, with Petri, he shot the documentary film Nudi per vivere. In 1967 the Paramount company hired him for the thriller Ad ogni costo (1967) and Gli intoccabili (1969). Back in Italy he shot the famous film Sacco e Vanzetti (1971) followed by Giordano Bruno (1973), L'Agnese va a morire (1976), Circuito chiuso (1978), the mini-series “colossal” Marco Polo (1983) with Burt Lancaster and the dramatic film Il giorno prima (1986). He then directed Gli occhiali d'oro (1987) and Tempo di uccidere (1989). In the following years, Montaldo devoted himself to directing documentary films including Ci sarà una volta (1992) and Le stagioni dell'aquila (1997) and to the staging of operatic works. In 2008 he directed I demoni di San Pietroburgo and from 2000 to 2003 he was President of Rai Cinema. For one year he was professor at the Faculty of Communication Sciences at the University La Sapienza in Roma, and since 2002 he has collaborated with the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. He received the honorary title of “Cavaliere di Gran Croce” from the former president of the Italian Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and in 2007 he received the “David di Donatello” career award.