These Are the Frontrunners at the 68th David di Donatello Awards

| Mon, 04/17/2023 - 10:51
Fabrizio Gifuni as Aldo Moro in Marco Bellocchio's Esterno Notte

The United States has the Oscars; Britain owns the BAFTAs. But how much do you know about Italy’s “Davids”? 

On Wednesday, May 10, the 68th edition of the David di Donatello Awards will take place, acknowledging achievement across just over two dozen cinematic categories — from sound mixing to screenwriting — in films released in Italy between March and December 2022.

This year’s ceremony will take place at Cinecittà@Lumina, a complex in the north of Rome, overseen by the historic Cinecittà Studios, which is undergoing expansion.

Below is a quick rundown of the David di Donatello’s significance, what to expect at this year’s glitzy ceremony and which nominees lead the pack.

A little background, prima

The first David di Donatello was awarded in Rome back in 1956. Over the decades that followed, the statues — modeled after Donatello’s sculpture of David rather than Michelangelo’s more famous version — have been passed to such Italian film greats as (directors) Federico Fellini, Vittorio De Sica, Bernardo Bertolucci and Dino De Laurentis; actors Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman and Marcello Mastroianni; and actresses Anna Magnani, Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren.

The Best Film category was not added until 1970. Since then, Best Film recipients well-known to international audiences have included Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1988), Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful (1998), Silvio Soldini’s Bread and Tulips (2000) and Matteo Garrone’s Gomorra (2009). 

Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God (2021) was named Best Film at the 67th David di Donatello Awards in 2022. 

This year’s nominees for Best Film

Esterno Notte (Exterior Night)

Leading the pack with 18 total nominations across categories, Marco Bellocchio’s Esterno Notte, starring Fabrizio Gifuni as former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, was released in theaters in two episodes and then broadcast on Rai 1 as a six-part series. Notte chronicles the investigation into Moro’s 1978 kidnapping and assassination by the far-left Red Brigades, a defining moment of Italy’s Anni di Piombo or “Years of Lead.” 

Esterno Notte has already won the European Innovative Storytelling at the 2022 European Film Awards.

La Stranezza (Strangeness)

With 14 total nominations, La Stranezza by Roberto Andò is another frontrunner. Starring Toni Servillo, Salvatore Ficarra and Valentino Picone, the fictionalized biopic, set in the 1920s, loosely pulls from the life of Luigi Pirandello and the origin story of his play Six Characters in Search of an Author, largely credited with creating the teatro nel teatro (“play within a play”) genre.

Le Otto Montagne (The Eight Mountains)

Neck-and-neck with La Stranezza with its own 14 nominations, Le Otto Montagne was written and directed by Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch and stars Luca Marinelli and Alessandro Borghi. 

Set in the mountains of Valle d’Aosta and based on the Strega Prize-winning novel by Paolo Cognetti, the film recounts a lifelong friendship between two boys, Pietro and Bruno. Le Otto Montagne already has one major feather in its cap as an ex-aequo winner of the Jury Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.

Il Signore delle Formiche (Lord of the Ants)

Collecting 11 nominations, Il Signore delle Formiche by Gianni Amelio (with Luigi Lo Cascio and Elio Germano) is a film based on the controversial 1964-1968 court case of Emilian intellectual, poet and playwright Aldo Braibanti. The partisan and onetime Partito Comunista Italiano member was found guilty of “plagiarism of the mind” or moral corruption of his young male lover, due to a Fascist-era anti-gay law that was only repealed in 1981.


Following closely with nine nods, Nostalgia by Mario Martone was Italy’s submission for the Best International Feature category at this year’s Academy Awards, but failed to secure a nomination. It stars Pierfrancesco Favino as Felice, a man returning to his hometown of Naples to visit his ailing mother after 40 years living in Egypt.

Where to watch the 68th David di Donatello Awards

Hosted by TV presenter Carlo Conti alongside actress Matilde Gioli, the ceremony will run live in primetime on Italy’s national public broadcaster Rai1. Those outside Italy can watch on RaiPlay

See the full list of nominees (in Italian) here.

Where to watch (some) of the nominated films

Though not all the frontrunners are available internationally — at least not yet — here’s where and how to watch some of this year’s nominees, either through on-demand streaming, live screenings, rental or purchase.