'Caesar Must Die' Tops Donatello Award Winners

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ROME – Paolo and Vittorio Taviani reprised their success at the Berlin Film Festival Friday by taking home three of the top David di Donatello prizes for Cesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die), the story of a prison acting troupe preparing to perform William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, while a non-U.S. film won the Best Foreign Film prize for the first time in eight years.

All told, the Golden Bear-winning Cesare deve morire took home five David di Donatello statues including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Producer, despite being nominated in only eight categories.

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The film bested more dominant nominees including Marco Tulio Giordana’s Romanzo di una strage (Story of a Massacre), nominated in 16 categories; Nanni Moretti’s comedic take on the papal conclave Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), nominated in 15; and This Must Be the Place, from Paolo Sorrentino, which starred Sean Penn as a jaded former rock star who seeks out to find its father’s former Nazi prosecutor, which was nominated in 14.

In the end, This Must Be the Place fared the best from the trio of most nominated films, winning six prizes, though the only major one was for Best Screenplay. Other prizes included Best Director of Photography, Best Musical Score, and Best Original Song for David Byrne’s "If It Falls, It Falls." Luisa Abel won the Best Makeup award for her dramatic work on Penn in the film.

Romanzo di una strage won three prizes, led by Michela Cescon and Pierfrancesco Favino, who took the honors for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, and Habemus Papam also took home three, including the Best Actor prize for French actor Michel Piccoli for his role as a hesitant pope in Moretti’s comedic drama.

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 Zhao Tao, who plays a factory worker in immigration drama Io sono Li (Li and the Poet), won the prize for Best Actress.

Francesco Bruni won the award for Best Emerging Director for Scialla! (Chill!), a comedy about the relationship between a rebellious teenager and his professor. The film also won the Young David prize.

Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation), a drama about a married couple that must decide whether to stay in Iran to look after a parent with Alzheimer’s or to move away to improve the quality of life for their child, won the Donatello for Best Foreign Film. The Iranian production, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, was the first film not at least co-produced in the U.S. to win the Donatello for Best Foreign Film honor since Les invasions barbares (The Barbarian Invasions) from France’s Denys Arcand, which won the award in 2004. Jodaeiye Nader az Simin is distributed in Italy by Moretti’s distribution company, Sacher.

The award for the Best Non-Italian European Film went to box-office busting French film Intouchables (The Intouchables). The film, which tells the story of an aristocrat forced to hire a young black man from a poor neighborhood as his caretaker after he becomes a quadriplegic, is distributed in Italy by Silvio Berlusconi’s Medusa Film. It was the second highest grossing film in Italy in March and ran strong into April, after earning 9 nominations and the Cesar awards, France’s version of the Donatellos.

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