Franco Rosso
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Franco Rosso

Franco Rosso (29 August 1941 - 9 December 2016),[1][2] was an Italian-born film producer and director based in England, whose films demonstrate "rare sympathy and understanding with minority groups in general, immigrant minority groups in particular."[3] He is known for making films about Black British culture, and in particular for the 1980 cult film Babylon, about Black youth in south London,[4] which was backed by the National Film Finance Corporation.[5]

Life and career

Rosso was born in Turin, Piedmont, Italy, but grew up in London, where his parents (who had been Fiat workers in Turin) brought him when he was aged eight.[4] After attending comprehensive school in Battersea,[4] Rosso went on to Camberwell School of Art and the Royal College of Art (at which he was a contemporary of Ian Dury).[3][6]

He was assistant on Ken Loach's 1969 film Kes,[7] and his subsequent career as a filmmaker has encompassed feature films as well as television documentaries and series, working as an editor, producer, director and writer.[8] In 1981 he won as Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Film-Maker for his 1981 drama Babylon,[9] which was called by New Britain fanzine "one of the best British films ever made, not just one of the best 'Black' or 'Youth' films".[10]

Selected filmography

  • 1973: The Mangrove Nine -- documentary about the Mangrove Nine (director; co-producer Horace Ové, scripted by John La Rose)
  • 1979: Dread Beat an Blood -- documentary for Omnibus featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson (director)[1][11]
  • 1981: Babylon -- drama (director, writer)
  • 1985: Sixty-Four Day Hero: A Boxer's Tale (director)
  • 1986: Struggle for Stonebridge - documentary for 40 Minutes, BBC Two (director)
  • 1988: The Nature of the Beast (director)
  • 1991: Lucha Libre -- for television (director)
  • 1995: Money Drugs Lock-up (director)


  1. ^ a b Bill Douglas Centre, "Franco Rosso 1942-2016", Babylon, 27 December 2016.
  2. ^ Martin Stellman, "Franco Rosso obituary", The Guardian, 2 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Franco Rosso", Babylon website.
  4. ^ a b c Miguel Cullen, "30 years on: Franco Rosso on why Babylon's burning", The Independent, 11 November 2010.
  5. ^ "BABYLON (Dir. Franco Rosso, 1980, UK) - Streets of Fire", Ellipsis, 17 May 2011.
  6. ^ "Chris Salewicz meets two of the people behind the controversial 'Babylon' - Director Franco Rosso and Aswad's Brinsley Dan", Franco Rosso and Brinsley Ford speak to the NME.
  7. ^ Simon W. Golding, Life After Kes, Andrews UK Limited, 2014.
  8. ^ "Franco Rosso", BFI.
  9. ^ Stephen Bourne, Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television, A&C Black, 2005, p. 202.
  10. ^ Dave Phillips, "Interview with Franco Rosso", New Britain, mid-1990s.
  11. ^ "Dread, Beat an' Blood", Learning on Screen, British Universities Film & Video Council.

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