Marco Bellocchio’s mafia drama The Traitor swept Italy’s top David di Donatello awards on Friday evening (May 8), winning six prizes including best film, director and lead actor.
The biopic, which premiered in Competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, captures the life of Tommaso Buscetta, the late infamous mafia turncoat who began his organised crime career in Sicily and died in Florida incognito under the US witness protection programme in 2000.
It marked the first time Bellocchio has won best film at the awards although he previously clinched best director with A Leap In The Dark (shared with Gillo Pontecorvo’s Ogro) in 1980 and Vincere in 2010. He was also feted with a career David in 2014.
Alongside best film and best director, Pierfrancesco Favino won best actor for his performance as Buscetta while Luigi Lo Cascio, who played Buscetta’s associate Totuccio Contorno, won best supporting actor.
The film also clinched best screenplay for Bellocchio with Ludovica Rampoldi, Valia Santella and Francesco Piccolo and best editor for Francesca Calvelli.
Best screenplay adaptation went to director Pietro Marcello and Maurizio Braucci for their adaptation of Jack London’s seminal novel Martin Eden.
Matteo Garrone’s live-action adaptation of children’s classic Pinocchio starring Roberto Benigni dominated the craft categories, winning best production design, costume design, special effects, make-up and hair.
Another top winner of the night was Matteo Rovere’s Romulus & Remus: The First King. It won best producer for Rovere and Andrea Paris under their Groenlandia banner with partners Rai Cinema, Roman Citizen and Gapbusters.
It also clinched best cinematography for Daniele Ciprì and best sound for the team consisting of Angelo Bonanni, Davide d’Onofrio, Mirko Perri, Mauro Eusepi and Michele Mazzucco.
In other awards, Jasmine Trinca won best actress for her performance in Ferzan Ozpetek’s The Fortune Goddess as a woman who calls on a gay friend and his partner to look after her two young children when she falls ill.
Valeria Golino won best supporting actress for her performance as the ex-lover of a hitman who comes out of retirement to avenge the killing of his son in Igor Tuveri’s crime thriller 5 Is The Perfect Number, which premiered in Venice parallel section Venice Days last September.
Phaim Bhuiyan won best new emerging director for his debut feature comedy-drama Bangla, which he directed and starred in as a young Italian born man, struggling to reconcile his Rome upbringing and Bangladeshi roots.
This year’s ceremony took place just four days after Italy started to ease the strict lockdown it put in place to slow the spread of Covid-19, although most restrictions remain and there is no visibility as yet on when cinemas and film and TV shoots may be able to start up again.
As a result the entire ceremony was run virtually with celebrity presenter Carlo Conti overseeing the event from an empty TV studio and winners acknowledging their awards via video-links.
Italian president Sergio Mattarella opened the ceremony with an address, expressing his support for the cinema world and hope that “there would be an explosion of creativity on a par with the neorealism after World War Two.”
In a separate address, Italy’s ministry of culture Dario Franceschini said he was working “24 hours a day for cinema”.
Emphasising that the final decision over the opening of cinemas and sets lay in the hands of the country’s technical scientific committee, he said that his hope was that cinema could at least return to the big screen in outdoor venues over the summer.
“Monday I’ll meet with the cinema world,” he said. “We have the summer head of us, the squares are big arenas in which security measures are easier to apply, And then we need to get the who great industry of Italian cinema up and running again.”