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Cinema: Sorrentino wins BAFTA after Golden Globe

The Great Beauty builds up steam ahead of Oscars

17 February, 13:13
Cinema: Sorrentino wins BAFTA after Golden Globe (ANSA) - Rome, February 17 - Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty was named best foreign film at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) Sunday night, upping its chances of becoming the first Italian film to win the Oscar since Life Is Beautiful in 1999.

The Great Beauty ('La Grande Bellezza') won a Golden Globe on January 13.

Like Sorrentino's acclaimed look at squalid Rome high society, Roberto Benigni's Holocaust tragicomedy won and BAFTA - but not a GOlden Globe - before going on to triumph in Los Angeles.

The 86th Academy Awards take place on March 2.

Sorrentino dedicated the BAFTA win to late director Carlo Mazzacurati, who died January 22.

The Great Beauty is a jaundiced view of jaded high jinks in Italy's capital seen through the eyes of a culture critic played by acclaimed actor Toni Servillo, a veteran of five Sorrentino movies.

The film, which has has a mixed critical reception in Italy, also won the European Film Awards last year.

It is one of the most decorated films in Italy so far this season, having taken home five awards from Italy's Nastri d'Argento (Silver Ribbon) honors and the best cinematography prize at the Globi d'Oro, Italy's Golden Globes, as well as the Golden Globe - the first won by an Italian film since Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso in 1989.

The Hollywood Reporter called the film "an amusing update on Italian society at the end of a cycle" that recalled the "magical atmosphere" of cinematic icon Federico's Fellini's 'Roma' and 'La Dolce Vita'.

The 43-year-old Sorrentino has emerged as one of Italy's most respected directors over the last dozen years, with five of his seven feature films screening in competition in Cannes.

He has also personally won four David di Donatello honors, Italy's version of the Oscars, and four Nastri d'Argento prizes.

However, this is the first time one of his films has been selected as Italy's official Oscar candidate.

The Great Beauty will be competing against The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium), The Suspect (Denmark), The Missing Picture (Cambodia) and Omar (Palestine).

Italy has won the Academy Award for best foreign film 12 times to date, starting in 1947 with Vittorio De Sica's Shoeshine (Sciuscia').

De Sica went on to clinch the award a further three times, for Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di Biciclette), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Ieri, Oggi e Domani) and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini) respectively in 1950, 1965 and 1971.

Fellini also took the award four times, for The Road (La Strada) in 1957, Nights of Cabiria (Le notti di Cabiria) in 1958, Eight and a Half (Otto e mezzo) in 1963 and Amarcord in 1974.

Other Italian directors to have won the award are Elio Petri with his Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto) in 1970; Giuseppe Tornatore and Nuovo Cinema Paradiso in 1990; Gabriele Salvatores and Mediterraneo in 1992; and Benigni for his Life is Beautiful in 1999, for which he also won the best actor award.