Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘The Hand of God’ Takes Top Honors at Italy’s David di Donatello Awards

Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-nominated autobiographical drama “The Hand of God” took top honors at Italy’s 67th David di Donatello Awards, winning best picture, director, supporting actress and tying for the best cinematography statuette.

Sorrentino’s Naples-set film about the personal tragedy and other vicissitudes that drove him to become a top notch film director had been the frontrunner along with young helmer Gabriele Mainetti’s second feature, the elegant effects-laden historical fantasy “Freaks Out.”

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“Freaks Out” won six prizes, including for its producer, Andrea Occhipinti, as well as cinematographer, set design, and effects.

The cinematography prize, which was a tie, was split between “Hand of God” DP Daria D’Antonio, marking the first time this David goes to a woman, and Michele Attanasio for “Freaks Out.”

The Davids were held as a fully in-person ceremony at Rome’s Cinecittà studios just as the famed facilities undergo a radical renewal being implemented by former Sky and Warner Bros. executive Nicola Maccanico.

Italian Culture Minister Enrico Franceschini took the stage at the start of the ceremony to reaffirm the Italian government’s support for the local film industry, shortly after announcing plans to widen the window between a movie’s theatrical release date and the time it can drop locally on a streaming platform. The minister’s still unspecified widening of the theatrical window is being prompted by local producers and distributors who sounded alarm bells about their struggle to get audiences back into movie theaters.

In the leadup to the Davids ceremony, film critic Piera Detassis – who is the first woman to head Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars – underlined that, sadly, this year there are no women represented in the best picture and best director categories. But she also accentuated the positive, in terms of achieving greater gender balance, noting the fact that most of the best actress nominees had never been in the running for an acting David before.

Significantly, the best actress statuette went to 17-year-old Swamy Rotolo for her radiant role as the titular character in Jonas Carpignano’s “A Chiara,” a teenager who gradually comes to discover that her close-knit family has ties to organized crime.

A visibly moved Rotolo, at her second role in “A Chiara” after her more minor turn in Carpignano’s “A Ciambra,” profusely thanked the New York-born director who has now made his home in the Calabrian town of Gioia Tauro, where Rotolo is also from and his films are set.

The best actor award went to veteran Silvio Orlando – who is best known internationally as Cardinal Voiello in Paolo Sorrentino’s TV series “The Young Pope” – for his role as an incarcerated Mafia boss who develops a close rapport with the jail warden in Leonardo di Costanzo’s slow-burn prison drama “Ariaferma” (The Inner Cage) that also won the David for best screenplay.

First-time director honors went to Laura Samani’s magical drama “Small Body,” about a woman in rural north-east Italy trying to save the soul of her stillborn baby in the year 1900.

Giuseppe Tornatore’s Ennio Morricone doc “Ennio” took the best documentary David and also won the editing David shared by co-editors Annalisa Schillaci and Massimo Quaglia. “Ennio,” which also won the David for best achievement in sound, is a rare case of an Italian film that has been performing well at the local box office.

Tribute was paid to the memory of the late Monica Vitti, who was Michelangelo Antonioni’s muse and starred in his “L’Avventura.” Vitti died in February at 90.

The best foreign film prize went to “Belfast,” by Kenneth Branagh. The film’s 11-year-old star, Jude Hill, picked up the statuette and thanked the David voters on Branagh’s behalf.

The David di Donatello lifetime achievement award went to stage and screen star Giovanna Ralli, 87, who embodies the grandeur of Cinema Italiano, having worked with maestros such as Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini and alongside Marcello Mastroianni, and Stefania Sandrelli, just to name a few. Significantly, Ralli, who is still active, stars in actor Jasmine Trinca’s directorial debut “Marcel!” that will be premiering in Cannes.

Here’s the complete list of 2022 David Awards winners:

“The Hand of God,” Paolo Sorrentino

“The Hand of God,” Paolo Sorrentino

“Small Body,” Laura Samani

“Freaks Out,” Andrea Occhipinti, Stefano Massenzi, Mattia Guerra (Lucky Red) — Gabriele Mainetti (Goon Films) — RAI Cinema

Swamy Rotolo, “A Chiara”

Silvio Orlando, “Ariaferma” (The Inner Cage)

Teresa Saponangelo, “The Hand of God”

Eduardo Scarpetta, “Qui Rido Io” (The King of Laughter)


Leonardo di Costanzo, Bruno Oliviero, Valia Santella “Ariaferma” (The Inner Cage)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Monica Zappelli, Donatella Di Pietrantonio “L’Arminauta”

Daria D’Antonio, “The Hand of God”
Michele D’Attanasio, “Freaks Out”

Massimo Quaglia, Annalisa Schillaci, “Ennio”

“Ennio,” Giuseppe Tornatore

Nicola Piovani, “I fratelli De Filippo”

“La Profondità degli abissi,” Manuel Agnelli – “Diabolik”

Massimiliano Sturiale, Ilaria Fallacara – “Freaks Out”

Ursula Patzak, “Qui Rido Io” (The King of Laughter)

Diego Prestopino, Emanuele De Luca, Davide De Luca, “Freaks Out”

Marco Perna, “Freaks Out”

Gilberto Martinelli, Fabio Venturi, Gianni Pallotto — “Ennio”

Stefano Leoni, “Freaks Out”

“Me contro te,” Gianluca Leuzzi


“Maestrale,” Nico Bonomolo

“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh

Giovanna Ralli

Sabrina Ferilli

Antonio Capuano

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