Italy’s “Io Capitano” Secures Oscar Nomination for Best International Feature Film

| Thu, 01/25/2024 - 10:20
Io capitano still

Italian director Matteo Garrone’s ultra-current coming-of-age film Io capitano, which chronicles the journeys of two young Senegalese migrants from Dakar to Italy, has secured a nomination for Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards.

This year’s ceremony, which honors films released in 2023, will be broadcast on March 10, 2024 live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.

The Roman-born Garrone, who co-wrote the film with Massimo Ceccherini, Massimo Gaudioso and Andrea Tagliaferri, has frequently emphasized that making a film told from the migrants’ point of view was important to him. At the center of Io capitano are two Senegalese teenagers, Seydou (Seydou Sarr) and Moussa (Moustapha Fall), who decide to flee Dakar for a chance at a better life on European soil. 

“We’re used to considering migrants as numbers and have lost sight of the fact that we’re dealing with people, people who have hopes and dreams,” Garrone said when presenting Io capitano at the 80th Venice Film Festival, where it made its world premiere. 

Across multiple interviews for Io capitano, Garrone, who is also known for Gommorrha (2008), Dogman (2018) and Pinocchio (2019), has frequently returned to the film’s theme of pursuing dreams. He often points to the youthful population from which the Io capitano characters emerge (70% of the sub-Saharan African population is under the age of 30, according to the United Nations). 

“To make their dreams come true, [these young people] often have to face a deadly journey,” Garrone said in a conversation with actor Roberto Benigni and the film’s star Seydou Sarr for Variety.

Io capitano’s accolades so far

In December, before Io capitano had officially secured the Best International Feature Film nomination, Variety called it “Italy’s strongest Oscar contender in recent memory.”

At the 80th Venice Film Festival, Io capitano lost the Golden Lion to Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, but took home the Silver Lion for Garrone’s direction and the Marcello Mastroianni Award, dedicated to emerging actors, for Sarr’s performance.  

In a statement released on Tuesday shortly after the Oscar nominations were announced, Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano called the nomination “a great recognition for Matteo Garrone's film and for all Italian cinema,” going on to describe Io capitano as “an extraordinary film that tells a story of courage and dignity.”

Italy at the Academy Awards

Io capitano is just the fourth Italian candidate to be nominated for the Best International Feature Film in the last 20 years. Only Paolo Sorrentino’s La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) has walked away with the major award in that period, though Italian films and individuals have taken home honors in other categories.

Here are the Italian films that have won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film (formerly called “Best Foreign Language Film”) or that received early honorary awards.

  • Sciuscià (Shoeshine), Vittorio De Sica (1947) (Honorary award)
  • Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief), Vittorio De Sica (1949) (Honorary award)
  • Le mura di Malapaga (The Walls of Malapaga), René Clément (1950) (Honorary award)
  • La strada, Federico Fellini (1956)
  • Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria), Federico Fellini (1957)
  • , Federico Fellini (1963)
  • Ieri, oggi, domani (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow), Vittorio De Sica (1964)
  • Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (Investigation of a Citzen Above Suspicion), Elio Petri (1970)
  • Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis), Vittorio De Sica (1971)
  • Amarcord, Federico Fellini (1974)
  • Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore (1989)
  • Mediterraneo, Gabriele Salvatores (1991)
  • La vita e’ bella (Life is Beautiful), Roberto Benigini (1998)
  • La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty), Paolo Sorrentino (2013) 

See the full list of Academy Award nominees, including the other international feature films that are competing, here.