Steven Spielberg, Diane Keaton, 'Dunkirk,' 'A Ciambra' Honored at Italy's David di Donatello Awards

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Steven Spielberg

Italy's biggest film awards honored Jonas Carpignano with the best director prize for his Calabrian drama 'A Ciambra,' while Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' was named best foreign film.

On Wednesday night, Italy celebrated the country's biggest film event, its equivalent of the Oscars: the David di Donatello Awards. The ceremony this year returned to public broadcaster Rai Uno, after the channel lost the program the last two years to Sky. 

Steven Spielberg and Diane Keaton both came to Rome to receive lifetime achievement awards alongside Italian actress Stefania Sandrelli (Divorce Italian Style, The Conformist). 

Among the big awards of the night, Italian-American filmmaker Jonas Carpignano won the best director prize for his stark Calabrian drama A Ciambra; Christopher Nolan took home best foreign film honors for Dunkirk; Ruben Ostlund's The Square was named best European film; and the Manetti Bros. won the top prize, that of best (Italian) film, for their crime-world musical comedy Love and Bullets.

The country's president-elect Sergio Mattarella kicked off the festivities earlier in the day, praising filmmakers and the importance of originality. He also acknowledged the movement behind "Disseno Commune" ("Common Dissent") and praised those who called out the lack of equality for women in the industry and in Italy as a whole. Last month, 124 women in Italy's film industry published a letter titled "Dissenso Commune" calling for an end to sexual harassment.

Similar to the Time's Up movement, many candidates wore a "Disseno Commune" button to protest violence against women in the country. And in a nod to the Golden Globes, many of Italy's leading actresses showed up on the red carpet dressed in black. 

Spielberg, who was also at the ceremony to promote his new movie Ready Player One, presented the award for best new director to Donato Carrisi for The Girl in the Fog, who dedicated his film to women. 

"Without women, there are no stories," said Carrisi, who was thrilled to receive the prize from Spielberg himself. 

Monica Bellucci presented Spielberg with his honor. And as is customary for any Hollywood figure visiting Rome, he expressed his love for Italian cinema. 

Spielberg recalled his first trip to Rome in 1971 when legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini came to visit him at his hotel. "He had seen Duel and wanted to tell me how much he liked it," he recalled fondly. Fellini then took Spielberg around Rome and showed him the city "through his eyes." 

Spielberg said the famous director gave him some valuable career advice, especially when speaking to press: "You must never give the same answer to the same question, otherwise you will go crazy," he said.

Fellini also told him, "It's important to entertain the public, but even more important to entertain yourself." Spielberg interpreted his advice as, "In order to reach an audience, you must be an audience." 

Competing against Love and Bullets for best film honors were A CiambraThe Tenderness, Cinderella the Cat and Nico, 1988.

Dunkirk won out against best foreign film nominees including The Insult, La La Land, Loveless and Manchester by the Sea. Last year, Tom Ford won the prize for Nocturnal Animals

In other categories, Susanna Nicchiarelli won best original screenplay honors for Nico, 1988; Jasmine Trinca was named best actress for Fortunata; and Renato Carpentieri was tapped as best actor for The Tenderness