The Eight Mountains Scores Top Honor at Italys David di Donatello Awards
“The Eight Mountains,” Belgian directors Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch’s Italian-language drama about friendship, mountains and growing up, scored the top prize at Italy’s 68th David di Donatello Awards.
Besides winning best picture, the film also scooped statuettes for best non-original screenplay, photography and sound.
Given that the directors are not Italian, it was a particularly significant victory for “Mountains,” which was praised as “quietly magnificent” by Variety critic Jessica Kiang. The film, which is currently playing well on the U.S. arthouse circuit, tracks the decades-long friendship between two Italian boys named Pietro and Bruno — one from the city, the other a shepherd boy from the Alps.
“It’s pretty incredible,” commented a visibly moved Van Groeningen. “Two Belgians who win this prize in Italy for an Italian movie.” “Thank you for this declaration of love,” added Vandermeersch, his partner in life. “We love Italy very much. This is so beautiful.”
The “Eight Mountains” victory was not a clean sweep at Italy’s top film prizes.
Veteran auteur Marco Bellocchio’s “Exterior Night,” a limited TV series about the 1978 kidnapping and assassination of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro by Red Brigades – that played in Italian cinemas before airing on TV – scored a David for Bellocchio, who won best director. And “Exterior Night” also took the award for actor that went to Fabrizio Gifuni, who plays Moro, plus statuettes for editor Francesca Calvelli and make up artist Enrico Iacoponi.
“When you reach a certain age you become wise,” Bellocchio said. “The important thing is to keep working, to make beautiful things. To not stay idle. I hope I still have some time to make some more beautiful things,” he added. Bellocchio, who is 83, will soon be in Cannes with the drama “Kidnapped,” inspired by the story of Edgardo Mortara, the Jewish child who in 1858 was removed from his family to be raised as a Catholic in the custody of Pope Pius IX.
Roberto Andò’s “La Stranezza” (“Strangeness”), a tragicomic period piece about how Pirandello found inspiration to write his masterpiece “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” won prizes for best producer, screenplay and set design.
Ensemble comedy “Settembre,” the first feature film directed by actor-screenwriter Giulia Louise Steigerwalt – who is a UCLA grad – was a definite standout, scoring a David for directorial debut for Steigerwalt and the best actress prize for Barbara Ronchi. The film intertwines three stories about existential anxieties across different generations that take place in September and combine light-heartedness and melancholy.
Special Davids went to Isabella Rossellini, who was handed her David by Matt Dillon, and director Enrico Vanzina, a veteran Italian hit comedies specialist. The career honor went to Marina Cicogna, Italy’s first major female film producer, who in the exclusively male milieu of Italian and European film in the late 1960s shepherded films by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Liliana Cavani and Elio Petri.
“When I started out as a producer I was the only women in this field. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but men certainly didn’t help me out much,” she said.
The Davids were held at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios, which are undergoing a radical renewal thanks to a $300 million cash injection allocated by the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund.
Though Italy’s film industry is prolific, the country’s box office is still sagging. In 2022, the country tallied a measly 44.5 million admissions, which reps a 48% drop compared with its average pre-pandemic level and is below theatrical moviegoing recovery rates for France, Germany, Spain and the U.K.
During the Davids ceremony, Italian Deputy Culture Minister Lucia Bergonzoni pledged a €20 million ($22 million) government investment that will promote moviegoing by financing a campaign under which tickets will cost half-price for a limited time.
See the complete list of 2023 David Awards winners below.
“The Eight Mountains,” Felix Van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch
Marco Bellocchio, “Exterior Night”
“September,” Giulia Louise Steigerwalt
“Strangeness,” Angelo Barbagallo, Bibi Film; Attilio De Razza, Tramp Limited, with Medusa and RAI Cinema
Barbara Ronchi, “Settembre”
Fabrizio Gifuni, “Exterior Night”
Emanuela Fanelli, “Siccità”
Francesco Di Leva, “Nostalgia”
Roberto Andò, Ugo Chiti, Massimo Gaudioso, “Strangeness”
Best Adapted Screenplay
Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersh “The Eight Mountains”
Ruben Impens, “The Eight Mountains”
Francesca Calvelli, with collaboration of Claudio Misantoni, “Exterior Night”
“Il Cerchio,” Sophie Chiarello
Stefano Bollani, “Il Pataffio”
“Proiettili,” Music by Joan Thiele, Elisa Toffoli, Emanuele Triglia. Performed by Elodie, Joan Thiele – “Ti Mangio il Cuore”
Giada Calabria, Loredana Raffi – “Strangeness”
Maria Rita Barbera, “Strangeness”
Diego Prestopino, Emanuele De Luca, Davide De Luca, “Freaks Out”
Desiree Corridoni, “Caravaggio’s Shadow”
Alessandro Palmerini, Alessandro Feletti, Marco Falloni — “The Eight Mountains”
Marco Geracitano, “Siccità”
“Il grande giorno,” Massimo Venier
DAVID YOUTH AUDIENCE AWARD
“Caravaggio’s Shadow,” Michele Placido
“Le variabili dipendenti,” Lorenzo Tardella
BEST FOREIGN FILM
“The Fabelemans,” Steven Spielberg
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