Italian fave only awarded screenplay prize

ROME — Italy’s RAI Cinema is vowing to boycott the Venice Film Fest in the future after its Marco Bellocchio-helmed “Good Morning, Night” failed to win a major prize Saturday.

Giancarlo Leone, chief of the pubcaster’s film unit, has fired off an angry letter to Franco Bernabe, who heads fest parent org the Venice Biennale, complaining about its “lack of attention toward the Italian film industry.”

Mario Monicelli, the veteran director who headed the Venice jury, also has come under fire from Leone and other Italian industryites for overlooking homegrown fare. The main prizes went to first-time Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “The Return” and Lebanese director Randa Chahal Sabbag’s “The Kite”; the director’s award went to Takeshi Kitano for his Samurai pastiche “Zatoichi.”

Bellocchio’s drama about the 1978 terrorist abduction and murder of Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was the entry most favored for a Golden Lion by Italians at the Lido and won praise from many international critics. It drew an outstanding individual contribution prize for its screenplay.

“We are not demanding to be given the Golden Lion as a gift, but every festival tends to promote its own culture,” Leone lamented, “whereas Venice prefers to reward obscure films from Third World countries.

“In the future,” he continues, “to avoid more bitterness we’d rather just give Venice a miss.”

The Venice verdict also met with criticism Monday from fest chief Moritz de Hadeln, who said Monicelli and Italian actor Stefano Accorsi should have rooted more strongly for the home team.

However, De Hadeln is skeptical that RAI Cinema really will snub Venice next year. “I’m sure all this brouhaha right now is great promotion for their film.”

“Good Morning, Night,” which opened Friday in Italy, pulled in e666,592 ($738,000) on 163 screens over the weekend, coming in third after “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” and “The Hulk.”

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