A six-hour long epic about the lives of two brothers between 1966 and 2002 has become a surprise sleeper hit in Italy.

Marco Tullio Giordano's La Meglio Gioventu - which won the Altadis award in this year's Un Certain Regard section at Cannes - has posted good results at Italy's slow summer box office.

La Meglio Gioventu has been divided into two different parts for theatrical distribution. The first section, Part 1, has spent four weeks in the Italian top 10 and has grossed Euros343,400 to date. Part 2 has been on release for three weeks so far, and is also in the top 10, having taken Euros175,319 to date.

As a way of promoting the film, viewers who produce ticket stubs for Part 1 are being offered a substantial discount on the full price ticket for Part 2.

The 366-minute film has been getting strong reviews. Screen International's Lee Marshall called it a "compelling weave of micro and macro history."

"Comparisons have been made with German epic Heimat, or with Bernardo Bertolucci's two part flop Novocento. But La Meglio Gioventu is more personal, and more intimate in scale, than either of these Histo-ramas," says Marshall.

(For further details on La Meglio Gioventu, see the review opposite on Screen Daily).