Better known for nervous introspection than clambering over the audience a la Roberto Benigni, Nanni Moretti was at the centre of a media whirlwind on Monday as the Italian press celebrated Italy's first Palme d'Or in 23 years.
Echoeing widesprad public sentiment over Moretti's Cannes triumph with The Son's Room (La Stanza Del Figlio), Milan's Il Corriere della Sera ran a banner headline screaming: "A victory for Nanni. A victory for Moretti. A Victory for Italy." A front-page editorial in Rome daily La Repubblica declared: "Nanni Moretti has won, Italian cinema has won."
Moretti, who had gone back to Rome on Friday to take a break from the Cannes hysteria before returning for the prize ceremony, seemed relieved it was all over. "It's true, the film has been a success in Italy and was well received by French and international critics," he said at a press conference. "But it's hard to know what jury members will like. It has often happened that the Palme d'Or has been awarded at Cannes without necessarily reflecting the taste of the public or critics. Basically, the fact that I was tipped as a favourite didn't reassure me at all."
The Italian film sector hopes the victory will help it capitalise on recent box-office and critical success by focusing attention on local film-makers. But in spite of the jubilation, some film professionals are wary of too much talk of a revival of Italian cinema.
Roberto di Girolamo, the president of Italy's film export body, said: "Of course it's a great, positive thing for the local industry, but, like with Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful, it is a case of success for one Italian author rather than Italian cinema as a whole. Like Benigni, Moretti is a highly original director. But both are already well-known and successful. Moretti's victory in Cannes will focus more attention on Italian cinema, but it doesn't symbolise a revival of Italian cinema."
Moretti is now set to focus on this summer's Sacher Film Festival, a festival of short films and documentaries he created several years ago. He was forced to put the event aside so he could dedicate himself to The Son's Room.