Italy Announces Oscar Entry Shortlist

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ROME – The list of 10 films that will produce Italy’s official candidate for consideration for the Oscars was released Monday, including Berlin winner Cesare deve morire (Caesar Must Die), Cannes jury prize winner Reality, famously snubbed Venice contender Bella Adormentata (Dormant Beauty) and an unlikely comedy from Italian funnyman Carlo Verdone.

The list of films will be considered by ANICA, Italy’s audiovisual association, before a single film is selected Sept. 26 and sent to the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences for consideration as one of the five films in the running for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

A total of 27 Italian films have been officially nominated for the best foreign language film, second only to France. And with 13 winners, Italy has taken hom the award more than any other country, though it has not won it since 1999, when Roberto Benigni's La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful) won the prize.

Cesare deve morire from Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, Reality from Matteo Garrone, and Marco Bellocchio’s Bella Adormentata have been mentioned as possible Oscar candidates for weeks. But Verdone’s Posti in piedi in paradiso (Standing Room Only in Heaven), a quirky comedy, is a surprise selection. Verdone is extremely popular in Italy but little known outside the country.

The other films selected for consideration by ANICA include Magnifica presenza (Magnificent Presence), a drama about a would-be actor from Ferzan Ozpetek; Pupi Avati’s marriage drama Il cuore grande delle ragazze (The Big Heart of the Girls); Diaz: Don’t Clean Up This Blood, a reenactment of the bloody end to the 2001 G-8 summit in Italy from Daniele Vicari; E stao il figlio (The Son Was Here), a Venice Golden Lion nominee from Daniele Cipri; Ivano De Matteo’s drama Gli equilibristi (Balancing Act); and crime story La-Bas (La-bas: A Criminal Education) from Guido Lombardi.

Cesare deve morire tells the story of a prison acting troupe performing William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, while Reality is about a man’s efforts to be on Italy’s version of the Big Brother reality TV franchise, and Bella Adormentata is a fictional euthanasia drama based on the real-life euthanasia controversy over the fate of Eluana Englaro. Bella Adormentata was considered a contender for a major prize in Venice, and it sparked a controversy about the fate of Italian films at the event when it left the Lido nearly empty handed.

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