As the inaugural Rome FilmFest is set to get underway tonight, Italy is mourning one of its cinema greats. GilloPontecorvo, most famous for directing TheBattle Of Algiers, died yesterday in Rome at the age of 86.

Pontecorvo's other filmsinclude Kapo, Ogro and Burn (Qeimada)starring Marlon Brando. He worked injournalism and was a resistance fighter in WWII before getting started in afilm career in the 1950s.

His 1966 classic The Battle OfAlgiers is a realistic look at Algeria's war of independence from France from 1954-1962. Pontecorvo directed and co-wrote thefilm with Franco Solinas; it won Venice's Golden Lion and was nominated for three Oscars.