Matteo Garrone’s critical hit Dogman was the big winner at Italy’s biggest film event, the David di Donatello awards, picking up nine prizes on Tuesday night.
The 64th edition of the awards was broadcast back on its original home of RAI after a brief trial run on Sky Italia. Under the new leadership of Piera Detassis, the first female president and artistic director of the Italian Film Academy, the awards saw a complete overhaul this year. Detassis slimmed down the membership base in an effort to edge out older members no longer working in the industry. The resulting academy has been trimmed from 2,148 members down to 1,559.
There were no surprises that Dogman took top awards for best picture and best director, with the Neapolitan-set crime fairytale nominated in a commanding 15 categories. It took home prizes in categories including best original screenplay, supporting actor, cinematography, production design, makeup, editing and sound.
In the evening’s biggest upset, Dogman’s lead Marcello Fonte, who won the lead actor prize at Cannes, Italy’s Silver Ribbon Awards and at the European Film Awards, did not add another trophy to his mantle. The best actor honor went to Alessandro Borghi for his portrayal of Stefano Cucchi in the Netflix film On My Skin. Based on a true story, Cucchi was arrested for a minor drug crime and later found dead in his cell, a tragedy that shook the nation.
Despite Italian exhibitors publicly protesting Netflix films taking festival and award shows acclaim, the streaming platform fared particularly well at the Davids. On My Skin also took home best new director for Alessio Cremonini and the best producers award for Cinemaundici’s Luigi Musini and Olivia Musini and Lucky Red‘s Andrea Occhipinti, as well as the new David Giovani Award for best film chosen by 3,000 Italian high school students.
And Alfonso Cuaron was present to accept the award for best foreign film for Roma, winning out over Bohemian Rhapsody, Phantom Thread, Cold War and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Detassis condensed the best European film category into the foreign category this year to encompass all films made outside of Italy.
Tim Burton, who was in town to promote Dumbo, accepted the lifetime achievement David for Cinematic Excellence award. And special David awards were given to Uma Thurman, Francesca Lo Schiavo and Dario Argento.
The 2019 David Awards marked the first time that two women were nominated for best director and best picture categories: Alice Rohrwacher for Happy as Lazarus and Valeria Golino for Euphoria, although neither film took home any prizes.
Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name won the award for best adapted screenplay and best original song: “Mystery of Love,” by Sufjan Stevens. Elena Sofia Ricci won best actress for the Berlusconi biopic Loro, and Marina Confalone won best supporting actress for The Vice of Hope. And Nanni Moretti won best documentary for Santiago, Italy.
Detassis also introduced a new popular film category, David of the Spectator, to honor the year’s biggest box office hit, going to Gabriele Muccino’s There Is No Place Like Home. Unlike members of the Academy Awards, Italian voters did not protest the new popular film category, but welcomed it as an example of box office hope in 2019.
“The David award must not be, and does not wish to be, simply a one-night happening,” said Detassis of her long and hard work in reforming the awards show. “With the backing of the Academy of Italian Cinema Foundation, a true treasure trove of talent, it can become an educational tool and a driver for promoting our cinema and our production. The Davids are when the cinema votes for the cinema, keeping an eye on the future.”