Paolo Sorrentino's 'This Must Be The Place' Claims Top Prize at Italy's Nastri d'Argento honors

This Must Be the Place film still
Cannes Film Festival

Europe's oldest film awards honor the Sean Penn-starrer -- the first time an English language film won the top Nastri d'Argento prize since Bernardo Bertolucci did it 24 years ago.

ROME – Paolo Sorrentino on Saturday won the Nastri d’Argento (Silver Ribbon) award for Director of the Best Film for his drama This Must Be the Place, while Marco Tullio Giordana was awarded the prize for Best Screenplay for his work on Romanzo di una strage (Story of a Massacre) and Magnifica presenza (Magnificent Presence) from Ferzan Ozpetek was honored for Best Story.

The 67-year-old Nastri d’Argento honors, Europe’s oldest film awards, are awarded each year by the Italian National Union of Film Journalists. The awards were presented Saturday in the 2,700-year-old Teatro Antico in Taormina, Sicily, best known as the home of the just completed Taormina Film Festival.

The top award was the second in four years for Sorrentino, who took home the same prize in 2009 for Il Divo. His latest film, which stars Sean Penn as an aging rock star who seeks revenge against his father’s former Nazi prosecutor, is the first English-language film to win the Director of the Best Film honor since 1988, when Bernardo Bertolucci won it for The Last Emperor. The category is limited to Italian productions.

The films from Giordana and Ozpetek were the most nominated productions when nominations were released June 4, earning nine nods each, compared to five for This Must be the Place. But they had to settle for secondary prizes, as Sorrentino added to his film’s trophy case, which already includes a jury prize in Cannes and six David di Donatello awards.

Romanzo di una strage tells the story of a 1969 bombing in Milan, while Magnifica presenza recounts the story of a young man who dreams of being an actor.

Among other awards, Michel Hazanavicius’ Oscar winner The Artist was selected as Best European Film, while Nicolas Winding Refn’s thriller Drive won the prize for Best Non-European Film, winning over the latest efforts from Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, and Martin Scorcese.