After getting his diploma at the Rome Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, the leading Italian institution for education, research and experimentation in cinema, Faenza makes his directing debut in 1968 with an international success, Escalation. Immediately after that he realizes H2S, struck by censorship and never released again. He then leaves Italy and moves to the United States, where he teaches at the Federal City College of Washington DC.
In 1978, back in Italy, he makes Forza Italia!, a satire on the power of the Italian Christian Democratic party, at that time dominant in Italy. In 1983 he shoots in New York Copkiller (aka Corrupt), with Harvey Keitel, Nicole Garcia and the leader of Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten. After Copkiller he becomes more and more inspired by literature as a source of stories.
In 1990 he makes The Bachelor, based on a short story by Arthur Schnitzler with Keith Carradine, Miranda Richardson, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Max Von Sydow. The costume designer is the four times Oscar winner Milena Canonero, with whom he starts a fruitful collaboration. In 1993 he directs Jonah who Lived in the Whale, with Jean-Hugues Anglade and Juliet Aubrey, a striking tale on the Holocaust seen through a child’s eyes, for which he is awarded the David di Donatello (the Italian Oscar) as Best Director. 1995 is the year of According to Pereira, the last Italian film with Marcello Mastroianni, who was awarded the David di Donatello as Best Leading Actor. The film was co-starred by Daniel Auteuil. In 1997 he makes Marianna Ucria, with Emmanuel Laborit and Philippe Noiret, and in 1999 he directs in Israel The Lost Lover, with Ciaran Hinds and Juliet Aubrey, based on the bestseller “The lover” by Abraham B. Yehoshua about the ongoing crash between Jews and Palestinians.
In 2002 he directs another successful film, The Soul Keeper, with Iain Glen and Emilia Fox, and in 2003 Come into the Light, with Luca Zingaretti (Nomination European Academy Award (EFA) as Best Director 2005; Best Leading Actor Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2005). In 2004 he realizes The Days of Abandonment, based on a novel by best selling author Elena Ferrante, in competition at the Venice Film Festival 2005. In 2006 he directs The Viceroys, a major TV mini series with Milena Canonero as costume designer, and in 2008 The case of the Unfaithful Klara, with Iain Glen, Kierston Wareing, Claudio Santamaria and Laura Chiatti. In 2010 he directs Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You, with Toby Regbo, Lucy Liu, Marcia Gay Harden and Ellen Burstyn, based on Peter Cameron’s novel. In 2011 he directs The Murder of Via Poma, a TV movie inspired by a famous unsolved murder, as well as Silvio Forever, co-directed with Filippo Macelloni, hilarious docu-fiction about Silvio Berlusconi. In 2012 he directs Anita B, with Eline Powell and Robert Sheehan, and in 2016 The Truth Lies in Heaven, inspired by the story of 15-years-old Emanuela Orlandi, a Vatican citizen mysteriously disappeared in 1983, among intrigues involving the Vatican, the Roman mob and the secret services.
He is now preparing a movie, to be shot in Spring 2020, based on the adventurous life on Mario Capecchi, 2007 Nobel Prize for medicine (working title: Resilient).Faenza is also author of essays and books and regular contributor to an Italian leading newspaper. He teaches Theory and Practice of Cinematographic Language and Theory and technique of film-making at the Faculty of Communication Science of the University of Rome.