Given Italy's unparalleled contributions to the visual arts from the twelfth century to the present, it would have been unusual, indeed, if its culture had not made fundamental contributions to the development of film art from the silent era to the present. After being identified with the historical epic in the silent cinema, Italy's film culture was virtually ignored during the fascist period, but the advent of postwar Italian neorealism after 1945 threw Italy into the forefront of modern European filmmaking. Subsequently, a number of the individuals associated with neorealism developed into auteurs , and Italy produced several generations of Europe's best art film directors. Italy also contributed a great deal to commercial film genres, such as the spaghetti western, the sword and sandal epic, the giallo (horror-mystery), and even the cannibal and zombie cult movies of the late twentieth century.

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