Oscars: Italy Selects Doc 'Notturno' for International Feature Category

Notturno
Venice Film Festival

'Notturno'

In a surprise decision, the Middle East documentary will represent the country in the 2021 Oscar race.

Italy has picked Notturno, an observational documentary by director Gianfranco Rosi (Fire at Sea) to be its 2021 Oscar contender in the best international feature category.

Rosi shot Notturno over three years across Lebanon, Iraq, Kurdistan, and Syria. Like much of the director's work, it is an impressionistic collage of ordinary people caught up in conflict. Notturno premiered at the Venice Film Festival this year and went on to screen in Toronto and New York. Submarine Entertainment is handling U.S. sales with The Match Factory selling international territories.

The Italian motion picture association, ANICA, picked Notturno from 25 titles in contention. It beat out higher-profile Italian features, including Matteo Garrone's live-action Pinocchio, starring Oscar winner Roberto Benigni, and Netflix's The Life Ahead, which features a star turn from another Italian Academy Award winner, Sophia Loren.

Rosi's previous documentary, Fire at Sea, which looked at refugees crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe, was nominated for the Oscar in 2017 but did not win.

Italy is a regular contender at the Oscars. Italian films have won the Oscar in the international feature category (formerly called best foreign-language feature) 14 times.

The Academy will pick a shortlist of ten international films which will be announced on Feb. 9, 2021. The five Oscar nominations will be announced on March 13. The winners' ceremony for the 93rd Academy Awards will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on April 25.