Italy has selected Matteo Garrone’s timely Venice-winning immigration drama Io Capitano to represent the country at the 2024 Oscars.
The emotionally-charged story follows the harrowing journey of two Senegalese teenagers from Dakar to Italy.
It premiered at the Venice Film Festival to strong reviews across the board where it earned Garrone the best director Silver Lion and the best new actor prize for the film’s leading actor Seydou Sarr.
Just days earlier, Garrone and his cast and crew screened the film at the Vatican for Pope Francis.
Told in Wolof and French, the contemporary odyssey sees its protagonists confront the dangers of the desert, the horrors of detention centres in Libya and the perils of the sea as they make their way to European shores.
The Italy-Belgium co-production is produced by Garrone’s Archimede with Rai Cinema and Tarantula alongside Pathé and Logical Content Ventures.
Pathé will release the film in France in January 2024 and is handling world sales via its Pathé International arm.
Io Capitano was released in Italy on September 7 via 01 Distribution, but Pathé has yet to announce a US distributor.
The selection was made by a committee overseen by Italian film organisation Anica.
Italy has won in the category 11 times and the country’s last victory came a decade ago with Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty in 2013. If selected, Io Capitano will be Garrone’s first Oscar nomination following Bafta nods for Gomorrah in 2009 and Dogman in 2019.