Country hasn't been in Academy Awards race since 1999's 'Beautiful'

ROME — Italy’s cash-strapped film industry is on cloud nine about Cristina Comencini’s incest-themed drama “Don’t Tell” nabbing a foreign Oscar nom.

The first Italian shot at an Oscar since Roberto Benigni’s 1999 “Life is Beautiful” sweep, this nom is being all the more appreciated because it’s basically a fluke.

“Don’t Tell,” which is co-produced by Cattleya and RAI Cinema, became the country’s Oscar contender in late October following rejection by the Academy of another Italo pic, “Private,” a drama in Arabic about a Palestinian family, which AMPAS ruled ineligible.

“We started out very late and with a controversial designation,” Cattleya topper Riccardo Tozzi told Daily Variety.

“I knew we could make it, but I was afraid we’d be stigmatized by our latecomer status.”

Comencini’s pic, based on her best-selling novel by the same name, has been a box office success in Italy grossing over $7 million after “Don’t Tell” unspooled in Venice where protag Giovanna Mezzogiorno scooped the Coppa Volpi for best actress.

Set in present-day Italy, drama concerns an Italian woman troubled by childhood memories which prompt her to visit a brother who lives in America.

Tozzi said Lionsgate, which has U.S. rights, will now release “Don’t Tell” stateside this month (February).

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