Other leading nominees for Italian honours are The Man Who Will Come, Vincere, Baaria, and Loose Cannons.

Paolo Virzi’s bittersweet 1970s-set comedy The First Beautiful Thing (La Prima Cosa Bella) has taken 18 nominations, emerging as the most nominated film for Italy’s David of Donatello awards, the top Italian film honours.

The film comes from the three-year old Indiana productions whose partners include Fabrizio Donvito, Marco Cohen, Benedetto Habib and Pursuit of Happyness director Gabriele Muccino. Indiana produced with Medusa, who also distributes and Rome based Motorino Amaranto. The picture has grossed shy of a respectable $8.7 mil (E6.5 mil) off a 12-week run.

Virzi’s film has taken nominations in the principal categories of  best director, best film, best cinematography, best editing and best music categories – he will face off in these categories with the other top nominated pictures by Giorgio Diritti, Marco Bellocchio, Giuseppe Tornatore and Ferzan Ozpetek.

Sixteen nominations go to Girgio Diritti’s heartfelt and critically lauded The Man Who Will Come (L’Uomo Che Verra), a 1944-set film depicting life in the small Italian village of Marzabotto before a Nazi massacre. The film is sold by Intramovies and took The International Rome Film Festival’s audience award for best film and Silver Marc’Aurelio Grand Jury prize in 2009.

Marco Bellocchio’s Mussolini-themed Vincere, which graced Cannes competition in 2009, has taken 15 nominations; the film is a production of Mario Gianani’s Offside productions and Rai Cinema. Giuseppe Tornatore’s Sicilian epic Baaria, - from Medusa has taken 14 nominations.

Ferzan Ozpetek’s Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti), a comedy set in the southern Italian city of Puglia focusing on two gay brothers struggling to come out to their traditional family has taken 12 nominations. Ozpetek’s film, which debuted in Berlin, is going strong in its fourth week at the Italian box office and has grossed almost $9.2 mil (Euros 6.9 mil) so far. The film is the latest from Domenico Procacci’s Fandango with Fandango Portobello sales handling world sales.

Best Producer nominations go to Medusa Film for Baaria, Angelo Barbagallo from Bibi film and Gianluca Curti from Minerva Pictures Group for Fortapasc, Domenico Procacci for Loose Cannons, Simone Bachini and Giorgi Diritti from Aranciafilm along with RAI Cinema for The Man Who Will Come and Marco Bellocchio and Daniela Ceselli for Vincere.

Nominations in the best actress categories include Margherita Buy for The White Space(Lo Spazio Bianco), Giovanna Mezzogiorno (Vincere), Micaela Ramazzotti and Stefania Sandrelli (The First Beautiful Thing) as well as Greta Zuccari Montanari (The Man Who Will Come).

Actors vying for best actor are Antonio Albanese and Kim Rossi Stuart (Questione Di Cuore), Libero De Rienzo (Fortapasc), Valerio Mastandrea (The First Beautiful Thing), Filippo Timi (Vincere). 

Nominees for best debut directors are Giuseppe Capotondi for The Double Hour (La Doppia Ora), Marco Charini for L’uomo Fiammifero, Valerio Mieli for Ten Winters(Dieci Inverni), Susanna Nicchiarelli for Cosmonaut and Claudio Noce for Good Morning Aman.

Four Special Career Davids will be given to Tonino Guerra, Lina Wertmuller, Bud Spencer and Terence Hill.

The winners will be announced May 7 in Rome.