After earning a degree in philosophy and attending both the "Paolo Grassi" Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Experimental Center of Cinematography in Milan, Roberta Torre relocated to Palermo in 1990.
Throughout the 90s, she shot numerous short films -- Angelesse (Lady Angels, 1991), Angeli con la faccia storta (Angels With Crooked Faces, 1992), Il teatro è una bestia nera (Theater is a Dark Beast, 1993), Senti amor mio? (Do you feel my love, 1994), La vita a volo d'angelo, videoritratto del popolare cantante Nino D'Angelo (An Angel's View of Life: Videobiography on the Popular Singer Nino D'Angelo, 1995), Verginella (1996) -- that earned her various prizes in Italian and international cinematographic festivals. In this period she also founded a small production house,"Anomini & Indipendenti" (Anonymous & Independents).
Her breakthrough came in 1997 with her first feature-length film, Tano da morire (To Die For Tano), an original and surprising musical ironical about the mafia. The film was presented at the Venice Film Festival and won numerous prizes, including the Luigi De Laurentiis award for filmmaking debuts, two David di Donatello awards (best new director and best musician for Nino D'Angelo), and three Silver Ribbons (best new director, best music, best supporting actress).
In 2000 she released Sud Side Stori (South Side Story), a musical aboutAfrican immigrants who arrive on the coasts of Sicily. The film was created with hundreds of extras chosen from various ethnicities (including Moroccans, Nigerians and Senegalese) and boasts a multi-ethnic soundtrack created by many collaborators, among whom emerge the names of Pacifico (Gino De Crescenzo), Linton Kwesi Johnson and Bobo Rondelli. In 2002 she presented the dramatic film Angela at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs of the Cannes Film Festival. The film, which Torre directed and for which she wrote the screenplay, came out in France and England and won numerous prizes in the most prominent international festivals, including the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. It was also nominated for seven David di Donatello awards.
In 2006, she released Mare nero (Dark Sea), a film noir that tells the disturbing story of a man struggling with his obsessions in the nocturnal world of private clubs and swingers. The film's cast of actors boasts Anna Mouglalis and Luigi Lo Cascio, and its soundtrack is by the renowned composer Oscar Shigeru Umebayashi. It was presented at the Locarno Film Festival in the year of its release.
In 2007, she founded Rosettafilm, through which she produced Itiburtino terzo (Tiburtino the Third) and La notte quando è morto Pasolini (The Night Pasolini Died), two docu-films on the neighborhoods on the outskirts of Rome. The first of these films is an affresco of the life and stories of the young inhabitants of the historic Roman neighborhood Tiburtino the Third, and the second is a long interview with Pino Pelosi who remembers the night of Pasolini's murder between past and present. Both films were presented in the Ici et Ailleurs section of the Locarno Film Festival in August, 2009.
In 2007, she also collaborated with Ugo Chiti and Ottavio Cappellani to write the screenplay for Sicilian Tragedi (Sicilian Tragedy), based on the eponymous book by Ottavio Cappellani. The film, however, was never brought to fruition. In 2008, she joined the collective project "All human rights for all" in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She contributed La Fabbrica (The Factory) to the initiative, a short film with babies in utero as its protagonists. On March 29, 2009, her photo exhibition Ma-donne was inaugurated in the Historical Archive of Palermo; the work is comprised of 23 frames in which she creatively elaborates a new image of contemporary woman.
In April of 2009, airtime was given to her advertisement for "Doppia Difesa" (Double Defense), an association established by Giulia Bongiorno and Michelle Hunziker that denounces violence against women. In the ad there appear well-known faces from the entertainment world who encourage women to denounce violence and refuse to live in silence.
In 2010 she released the film I baci mai dati (Lost Kisses), a comedy produced by Nuvola Film and Rosettafilm and shot in the Librino neighborhood of Catania. The film was presented at the Venice Film Festival in September 2010 in the Italian Reverse Shot section. It was successively selected for the World Cinema category at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011. The film earned two Silver Ribbon nominations for best subject and best costumes.
In 2010, she directed and wrote the scenography for La ciociara, a work produced by the private Bellini Theater in Naples that earned her a nomination for best director at the Golden Graal. Also in 2010, she collaborated with Antonella Gaeta and Leonardo Marini to write the screenplay for the TV movie Maqueda, based on the eponymous book by Salvo Sottile.
Since 2011 she has been working on a screenplay for Rose e matematica (Roses and Mathematics), a feature-length film on the figure and life of her grandfather, the aeronautical engineer Pier Luigi Torre, inventor of the Lambretta, the seaplane engine Savoia-Marchetti S.55A used in the trans-Atlantic flight of Italo Balbo, an advanced model of the black box, and even a variety of "blue rose".
On May 14, 2012, she made her directorial debut at the Greek Theater of Syracuse with the comedy Gli uccelli di Aristofane (The Birds of Aristophanes), produced by the National Institute of Ancient Drama. For this work she was awarded the "Shadow of Dionysus" prize. In September of 2012, she made her debut in Taormina with the theatrical production Lunaria (Lunaria), based on the text by Vincenzo Consolo. She arranged the theatrical and scenic adaptation for the Taobook Review; it was produced by Taormina Art, interpreted by Franco Scaldati, and scored with original songs by Etta Scollo.
Short films and documentaries
Tempo da buttare (Time To Waste, 1991) (short film)
Hanna Schygulla (Hanna Schygulla, 1992) (short film)
Zia enza è in partenza (Zia Enza is Leaving, 1992) (short film)
Sentire (To Feel, 1993) (in Unique Senses, collective work)
Femmine Folli (Crazy Women, 1993) (Barbablù Tango, Lady M, La donna dei lupi)
Angelesse (Lady Angels, 1994) (documentary)
Le anime corte (Short Souls, 1994) (short film)
Senti amor mio? (Do You Feel My Love?, 1994) (short film)
Il cielo sotto Palermo (The Sky Under Palermo, 1995)
Spioni (Spies, 1995) (documentary)
Verginella (Verginella, 1995) (medium-length film)
Appunti per un film suTano (Notes for a Film on Tano, 1995)
Angeli con la faccia storta (Angels With Crooked Faces, 1995)
Palermo bandita (Palermo Bandit, 1996) (short film)
Itiburtino terzo (Tiburtino the Third, 2009) (docufilm)
La notte quando è morto Pasolini (The Night Pasolini Died, 2009) (docufilm)
La vita a volo d'angelo (An Angel's View of Life, 1996) (docufilm)
Tano da morire (To Die For Tano, 1997)
Sud Side Stori (South Side Story, 2000)
Il viaggio lungo di Arul, Rani e Vivetas (The Long Journey of Arul,
Rani and Vivetas, 2002)
Angela (Angela, 2002)
La malacanzone (The Bad Song, 2005)
Mare nero (Dark Sea, 2006)
I baci mai dati (Lost Kisses, 2010)
Rose e matematica (Roses and Mathematics, 2011).