Valeria Golino is one of Italy's most celebrated filmmakers having excelled both behind and in front of the camera.
Born in Naples in 1966, Golino is no stranger to American cinema. Most recognized in the U.S. for her role in Rain Man in which she played the girlfriend of Tom Cruise's character, Charlie, the role put her on the map as an international star, but her humble beginnings have always kept her grounded.
The daughter of an Italian father and Greek mother, Golino spent most of her childhood and teenage years traveling between Naples, Rome and Athens. She had dreams of becoming a doctor but the constant moving between Athens, where she stayed with her mother, and Rome, where she stayed with her father, made it difficult to focus on school. So, she began modeling and eventually left her studies after she landed her first role in a feature film. Golino then went on to make a name for herself in Hollywood and has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry including Sean Penn, Mike Figgis, Steve Buscemi and Peter Fonda not to mention Dustin Hoffman and Barry Levinson.
One of her most memorable roles as an actress is in Emanuele Crialese's visually stunning masterpiece, Respiro. Staring Golino and Vincenzo Amato, the film was shot on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa and tells the story of a not so traditional mother who struggles with meeting the demands of a narrow-minded village where everyone knows everybody else's business. It's a story of freedom, self-expression and love that was shot in a place as close to paradise as one can get. The film is adored worldwide perhaps because of its idyllic setting and timeless story. Golino fully embraces her character's free spirit, passion and love for her family.
In 2013, Gollino directed her first feature film, Miele (Honey), the story Irene (Jasmine Trinca) who lives an isolated life. She works in a hospice setting, helping terminally-ill people die with dignity by giving them a drug. One day she supplies a new patient with a fatal dose, only to find out he was perfectly healthy. She then fights to maintain her innocence. The film was shown all over the world and won a whole host of awards.
Her latest directorial effort, Euphoria, premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in the section, Un Certain Regard. Starring Valerio Mastandrea and Riccardo Scamarcio as two very different brothers forced to live together, Golino said that the story was inspired by people in her life who found themselves in a similar situation.
Golino has a unique way of portraying her characters as very down to earth people, perhaps because of her humble beginnings or the fact that she traveled so much between cultures as a child. She's indeed a great, classic Italian beauty, but her understanding of people and the human condition gives her insight into how her characters, whether she is portraying them or directing them, can be dignified and good-hearted while overcoming their own flaws and imperfections. It is exactly these qualities that made the transition from actress to director seem so smooth.
By- Jeannine Guilyard
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