Italy’s Oscar Candidate Wows Hollywood

Mon, 11/19/2012 - 08:43
Cesare deve Morire

words by Carol King

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani received a standing ovation when their film ‘Cesare deve morire’ (Caesar Must Die) screened in Hollywood, California.

‘Caesar Must Die’ was shown at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre during the Cinema Italian Style festival organised by Luce Cinecittà with the co-operation of the American Cinematheque. The movie opened the event, which featured 12 Italian films.

The movie also screened at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre during the AFI Fest 2012 and was one of 12 shown that have been submitted for the Foreign Language Film Academy Award. The AFI Fest is the American Film Institute’s annual celebration of international cinema from modern masters and emerging filmmakers.

Italy announced ‘Caesar Must Die’ as its official candidate for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in late September. A drama about a group of prisoners rehearsing and performing William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’, the movie has received numerous accolades already. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and five gongs, including Best Film, at Italy’s David di Donatello Awards. In November, the National Union of Italian Cinema Journalists voted the Taviani Brothers winners of Italy’s oldest film honour, the Nastri d’Argento dell’Anno 2012 (Silver Ribbon of the Year 2012), and the month also saw the brothers receive Ischia Global Film & Music Fest’s top prize, the Ischia Legends Award.

‘Caesar Must Die’ marks a return to the Taviani brothers’ docudrama roots. It is performed by prison inmates and the cast contains no professional actors. The movie beat nine other contenders on Italy’s Oscar candidate shortlist, including Marco Bellocchio’s euthanasia drama ‘Bella Addormentata’ (Dormant Beauty), and Matteo Garrone’s comedy ‘Reality’ that won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.

An Italian film has not been nominated as a finalist in the Best Foreign Language Film category since 2005, when Cristina Comencini’s ‘La bestia nel cuore’ (The Beast in the Heart) was selected. Nevertheless, Italy has an enviable record at the Academy Awards. Some 27 Italian films have been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film – so Italy lies second to France in the number of nominations received – and Italy has won the award 13 times, which is more than any other country has achieved. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will release the Best Foreign Language Film shortlist on 2 January 2013 and the five nominees eight days later.

The Oscar ceremony will be held on 24 February.