From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Franco Zeffirelli, KBE (Hon), (born 12 February 1923) is an Italian film director and producer of films and television and opera director and designer. He has also been a politician (The People of Freedom). He is known for his film version of Romeo and Juliet (1968), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. His television mini-series Jesus of Nazareth (1977) also won acclaim and is still shown on Easter weekend in many countries. Zeffirelli was a member of the Italian Senate from 1994 to 2001, representing the Forza Italia party (which later became The People of Freedom).