Benigni wows audience as gets career Golden Lion

Tells Mattarella he should 'stay on for a few more years'

(ANSA) - VENICE, SEP 2 - Life is Beautiful director and star Roberto Benigni on Wednesday night wowed the audience at the opening of the 78th Venice Film Festival as he received a career Golden Lion.
    "I cannot fail to dedicate the career Lion to (wife) Nicoletta) Braschi," quipped the 68-year-old comic, actor and filmmaker.
    "It's hers.
    "I'll take the tail but the wings are yours," he added to his longtime muse.
    Benigni then greeted Italian President Sergio Mattarella who was in the audience.
    He jokingly asked the 80-year-old head of State, whose term expires next year, to "stay on a a few years".
    The film that rang up the curtain on the world's oldest film fest was Pedro Almodovar's Madres Paralelas, a tribute to imperfect mothers starring Penelope Cruz.
    The story of a middle-aged single mother who forms an unlikely bond with a teenage single mother, it is the director and star's seventh film together.
    "We've made seven films together but each time is a gift, I'm always waiting for his phone call", said the Oscar winning actress.
    This year's fest is seen as a comeback from the COVID emergency that kept many stars away last year.
    The world's oldest film fest will run until September 11 when a jury chaired by Parasite director Bong Joon-ho will give the best of the 21 films in competition the coveted Golden Lion that last year went to Oscar winner Nomadland.
    Presenter and actress Serena Rossi is hosting the fest.
    Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino's latest film, E' Stata la Mano di Dio' (It Was the Hand of God), is among five Italian movies that will be in the running for the Golden Lion.
    The others are Mario Martone's 'Qui Rido Io', Gabriele Mainetti's 'Freaks Out', Michelangelo Frammartino's 'Il buco' and 'America Latina,' a thriller by brothers Fabio and Damiano D'Innocenzo.
    Sorrentino's 2013 film La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) won the Academy Award, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
    E' Stata La Mano di Dio is his first semi-autobiographical work.
    Bong, the jury chair from South Korea, is an Academy Award-winning director and screenwriter, and one of the most original voices in contemporary film. He is the author of milestones in Korean cinema such as Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006) and Mother (2009).
    He won definitive international consecration in 2019 for Parasite, winner of a long series of prestigious acknowledgments including the Golden Palm at Cannes, a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice Award, two BAFTA and four Oscars¸ for Best Film, Best International Feature Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
    The other members of the jury are: Saverio Costanzo, Italian director and screenwriter; Virginie Efira, Belgian actress; Cynthia Erivo, British actress and singer; Sarah Gadon, Canadian actress; Alexander Nanau, Romanian-German documentary director; and Chloé Zhao, Chinese director and screenwriter. (ANSA).


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