Gianni Di Gregorio was born in Rome in Trastevere, where he still lives and works.

He fell in love with cinema when he was still a child, spending his mornings at school and his afternoons in the local cinemas, sometimes watching up to three films a day.

After studying Classics at high school he went to university to study literature, but before graduating dropped out to go to the Accademia di Arti Sceniche in Rome, run by Alessandro Fersen, where he took a diploma in directing and acting.

For three years he worked in Fersen’s experimental research workshop (taking part in seminars and exchanges with the groups of Bob Wilson, Grotowski, Kantor and Chaikin), which led to the show Leviathan, presented at the Festival of Spoleto in 1976.

After three years of theatre, as an assistant director and actor, he saw Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets, which made such an impression on him that he left theater and started to work in film as an assistant director. He then moved into screenwriting.

In 1986 he wrote the screenplay for the film Sembra morto ma e solo svenuto by Felice Farina, with Sergio Castellitto and Marina Confalone, which won the Premio FRIPRESCI at the Settimana della Critica, at the 1987 Venice Film Festival.

In the same year he wrote the story and screenplay for the film Carefree Giovanni by Marco Colli, with Sergio Castellitto, Eleonora Giorgi, Aldo Fabrizi, Franco Fabrizi and Luca De Filippo. Presented at the Quinzaine des Realizateurs at Cannes 87, it was awarded the Gran Prix du juri at the festival of Annecy.

In 1991 he wrote Shipwrecks directed by Marco Colli, and the following year he wrote the story and screenplay for the film Affetti Speciali directed by Felice Farina.

In 2000 he wrote the screenplay for Long Live the Monkey!, based on the short story Le due zitelle by Tommaso Landolfi and directed by Marco Colli.

He met Matteo Garrone after seeing Garrone’s first film, Terra di Mezzo. He started working with him as assistant director, in 2000 with Roman Summer, and continued with The Embalmer and First Love. In 2007 he co-wrote the screenplay for the award-winning film Gomorrah, directed by Garrone.

In 2008 he made his directorial debut with Mid-August Lunch, which he wrote and starred in. The worldwide success of Mid-August Lunch led to his follow-up, The Salt of Life (Gianni e le donne).

Watch an interview with Gianni on The Guardian.co.uk