Italy 2014 in Review: Hollywood's Comeback and George Clooney's Wedding

George Clooney Amal Alamuddin Venice - H 2014
AP Images

George Clooney Amal Alamuddin Venice - H 2014

Italy's dueling festivals made peace, tax incentives were increased and a singing nun went viral

Italy made its mark in Hollywood throughout 2014 by taking home its 11th Oscar for best foreign-language film, attracting studio films, such as 007's latest outing, to the country and serving as the perfect backdrop for the year's most talked-about wedding.

Production incentives in the country were also updated, and a singing nun became a viral hit. Below is THR's look at some of Italy's top entertainment-industry stories of the year.

The Great Beauty Brings Oscar Glory

Italy celebrated another epic Oscar win in 2014 with Paolo Sorrentino's sweeping tale of contemporary Rome, The Great Beauty.

Italians celebrated their latest maestro far and wide. While critics in Italy were divided before the big win, repulsed by the cinematic account of Silvio Berlusconi's culturally ravaged Rome, Americans reveled in what they saw as a modern-day 8 1/2.

With Sorrentino's success, Italy remains the country with the most foreign-language Oscar wins, 11, plus three special honorary Oscars. Sorrentino has some catching up to do with Fellini, however, who holds the record of four single Academy Award wins.

Raised Tax Credits

After years of budget cuts, the new minister of heritage and cultural activities, Dario Franceschini, announced legislation intent on making Italy a destination for foreign productions once more. He raised the tax credit allocation from $6.7 million to $13.0 million beginning in 2015.

Tax credits will benefit an Italian company's production partner rather than individual pictures.

Several big-name productions have already signed up. Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, will shoot key action sequences in Rome in 2015. Justin Theroux's Zoolander 2, starring Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Penelope Cruz, will start shooting in February in Rome's Cinecitta Studios, as will the new Ben Hur, starring Jack Huston.

Rome Film Festival Rebrands

Speaking of Cinecitta Studios, the Rome Film Festival will focus mainly on building the city's reputation as an industry hot spot for cinema. After years of failing to find its identity, it decided in 2014 to do away with its competition section, leaving that to competitor Venice. Rome's focus instead will be on a celebration of cinema and an emphasis on its film market.

While Venice is Italy's only real international festival, with 71 years of history, it has never been able to set up a market. Rome's market has been growing each year, thanks in part to the festival's ability to bring in key international players.

As most of the country's industry members live in Rome, the market is a strategic focus they are likely willing to support. Rome festival head Marco Mueller also announced his exit. His replacement has not yet been made public.

George Clooney Marries in Venice

While Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt married this year in secret, the wedding of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin came with all the fanfare expected of an A-list wedding.

Clooney met Alamuddin in Italy, so it was only fitting that they tied the knot in Venice. Former mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, officiated the ceremony.

Celebrity friends Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Cindy Crawford and Bono descended upon the canal city, bouncing between the seven-star Hotel Aman and Clooney's local favorite, the Hotel Cipriani. Alamuddin topped best-dressed lists for the year in a custom-made Oscar de la Renta gown.

A Singing Nun Wins 'The Voice Italy,' Goes Viral

Sister Cristina Scuccia, a 26-year-old nun of the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy Family, was the breakout hit of The Voice Italy in 2014. Performing on the Italian version of the show, singing Alicia Keys' "No One," she had the audience on their feet within seconds.

The video of the performance on RAI drew more than 4 million views on YouTube in two days and currently has more than 67 million views.

Scuccia went on to win the show, taking home a recording contract with Universal Music. She released her first single, "Like a Virgin," in October. Her album debuted in November, with all profits being donated to her congregation's projects. The singing nun said that she was inspired to compete on The Voice after Pope Francis' call for people to "get out onto the streets" for their faith. Variety shows continue to be some of Italy's top-rated TV programming.

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